MANKATO, Minn. — The Minnesota State men’s basketball team begins its 2023-24 season in Kansas City, Mo., this weekend as it takes on Southern Arkansas on Friday and Arkansas-Monticello on Saturday. Tip-offs for both games are scheduled for 5:00 pm, at the Municipal Auditorium.
Minnesota State History: The 2023-24 season marks the 102nd campaign as a varsity sport for Minnesota State men’s basketball. The Mavericks are 1,414-945 (.599) in 2,359 games since the program’s inception in the 1920-21 season. MSU capped its 33rd and final season as a member of the NCC in 2008 and owned a 283-267 (.515) record in 550 league games played. In the NSIC, MSU owns a 210-104 (.668) record to go with four regular-season championships and two tournament championships.
Against the Mule Riders: Friday’s game between Minnesota State and Southern Arkansas marks the first meeting between them.
Against the Boll Weevils: Saturday’s game between Minnesota State and Arkansas-Monticello marks their second all-time meeting.
The Boll Weevils defeated the Mavericks 57-56 in their previous meeting during the 1982-83 season in Cleveland, Miss.
Regarding the Mavericks: Minnesota State finished its 2022-23 season with a 17-12 record, including an 11-11 NSIC record. The Mavericks finished fifth in the NSIC South Division and advanced to the first round of the NSIC Tournament where they fell to Minnesota Duluth 88-68 on the road
As a team, MSU averaged 76.7 points and 38.2 rebounds per game while shooting 44.8% from the field last season. The Mavericks shot 35.6% from three-point range and passed out 387 assists and blocked 93 shots. The Mavericks led the NSIC in rebounds per game.
Senior Malik Willingham averaged 18.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game last season, while leading the team in three pointers made with 85. Junior Kyreese Willingham notched 13.2 points and a team-best 6.3 rebounds per game last season as he shot 47.0% from the field. Junior Harrison Braudis also averaged 10.8 points per game.
Along with their nine returnees from last season, MSU also welcomes four newcomers including graduate students Dylan Peters and Elijah Hazekamp from Truman State, junior Justin Eagins from Wayne State and freshman Will Opsahl.
Hazekamp started all 28 games for Truman State last season as he averaged a team-leading 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last season. Peeters recorded 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as well. At WSC, Eagins started 28 games for the Wildcats and averaged 11.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 40% from three point land.
The Mavericks are led by Matt Margenthaler, who is in his 23rd season at Minnesota State. He owns a career record of 453-209 (.684).
Regarding the Mule Riders: Southern Arkansas finished its 2022-23 season with a 22-10 record, including a 15-7 record in Great American Conference action. The Mule Riders went on to win the GAC Tournament, before falling to Northwest Missouri State 94-69 in the first round of the NCAA Central Region Tournament.
As a unit, SAU averaged 77.4 points and 37.2 rebounds per game last season, while shooting 45.6% from the field and 36.0% from long range. The Mule Riders passed out 403 assists and recorded 213 steals.
Gregory Hammond Jr. played in all 32 games for the Mule Riders last season as he led the team in scoring with 12.9 points per game, to go along with 6.2 rebounds a game. Carl Ray Jr. averaged 10.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game coming off the bench.
Southern Arkansas is coached by Logan Quinn who is in his second season as head coach of the Mule Riders. He owns a 22-10 (.687) record.
Regarding the Boll Weevils: Arkansas-Monticello finished its 2022-23 season with an 11-17 record, including a 7-15 record in Great American Conference competition. The Boll Weevils finished their season with a 75-61 loss to Ouachita Baptist.
As a team, UAM averaged 63.7 points and 29.4 rebounds per game last season while shooting 45.2% from the field, including a 40.5% showing from downtown. The Boll Weevils passed out 342 assists, but committed 387 turnovers.
Isaac Jackson led the team with 14.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game last season, while Mario Fantina notched 10.1 points and 2.5 assists per game, while connecting on a team-best 67 three pointers. Josh Denton averaged 9.9 points per game as well, while shooting 44.5% from three point range (65-of-143).
The Boll Weevils are coached by Chad Tapp who is in his third season at Arkansas-Monticello. He owns a 21-35 record with the Boll Weevils.