Fort Hays State men's basketball carries a four-game win streak into Thursday's contest at Central Missouri. This will be the only meeting in the regular season between the teams for a fourth straight year, and third straight year that the meeting is in Warrensburg. Game time is 7:30 pm, which follows the women's contest at 5:30 pm.
FHSU enters at 11-11 overall, while Central Missouri is 9-13. Both are 4-9 in MIAA play. FHSU, UCM, and Emporia State all sit in a tie for 10th place in the MIAA standings. This game could be key to an MIAA Tournament berth in a few weeks as the top 10 teams in the conference qualify for the tournament.
The Tigers are looking for their first conference road win of the season, currently winless in six tries this year. Two of the road losses this year have been by six points or less, which occurred at Emporia State and Northeastern State.
This week is big for FHSU in its quest to make the conference tournament, facing a team it is tied with in the MIAA standings on Thursday and then a team it is one game back of on Saturday. FHSU enters the week just one game back of eighth in the MIAA standings. There is a significant two-and-a-half game gap between seventh place and eighth place in the MIAA standings.
FHSU has lost two straight to Central Missouri, both in Warrensburg in each of the last two years. Prior to the current two-game streak by UCM, FHSU held a three-game win streak over UCM. The Tigers won the 2016-17 meeting in Hays, and won both meetings between the teams in the regular season of 2015-16. The last win for FHSU over UCM in Warrensburg was in 2015-16 by just one point, when UCM held a national ranking of No. 15.
The Tigers rank among the top 30 teams in the nation in free-throw percentage and turnovers per game. The Tigers are 27th nationally in free-throw percentage at a 77.5 percent clip, with eight of 11 players shooting 80 percent or better this year. They are 26th in turnovers per game at just 11.4 per contest.
Jared Vitztum is the only Tiger averaging double figures in scoring through 22 games. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 13.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game respectively. Devin Davis, Nyjee Wright, Jake Hutchings, and Aaron Nicholson all average at least nine points per game.
Forward Gaven Pinkley leads UCM in scoring this year at 13.9 points per contest, while shooting over 50 percent from the field.
Tiger women face No. 24 Jennies
The Fort Hays State women's basketball team faces off with a ranked opponent for the third time this season on Thursday when the Tigers battle 24th-ranked Central Missouri. Both the Tigers (17-5, 8-5 MIAA) and Jennies (18-4, 12-1 MIAA) are looking to bounce back after losing their most recent game on Saturday.
A win Thursday would clinch Fort Hays State's ninth-straight trip to the MIAA Championship Tournament inside historic Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. Tiger fans can purchase discounted tickets to the conference championship now at the athletics office!
After defeating Central Missouri twice last season, the Tigers have narrowed the gap in the all-time series to 15-14 in favor of UCM. Fort Hays State is 4-8 in Warrensburg, including a win in the most recent road game last season. The Tigers have won seven of the last nine meetings going back to the 2014-15 season. Head coach Tony Hobson is 12-10 against the Jennies, including a 3-5 mark on the road.
The Tigers won their first MIAA Championship tournament with a 63-56 win over the Jennies last season in Kansas City (3/10/19). FHSU scored on its first eight possessions and never looked back. Taylor Rolfs led the way with 17 points.
This is the third year in a row that the Tigers have traveled to Warrensburg to play UCM in the regular season. Only three players on the current roster have played in a game against the Jennies at home (Kacey Kennett, Madison Mittie, Taylor Rolfs).
Kacey Kennett has scored in double figures four times against the Jennies and averages 12.2 points per game in five contests against UCM.
The Tigers are 44-37 in games played in Missouri under head coach Tony Hobson, including a 3-1 mark this season in the Show-Me State.
Central Missouri is coming off its first conference loss of the season after a 15-game winning streak was snapped at Missouri Western last weekend. The Jennies remain one game clear of anyone else in the MIAA standings and have secured a spot in the MIAA Championship. UCM is a perfect 10-0 at home this season, defeating opponents by an average of 17.9 points inside the Multi. Megan Skaggs leads the team with 16.2 points per night, fourth-most in the MIAA. Morgan Fleming (14.8 ppg, 8th) and Nija Collier (14.1 ppg, 12th) are also among the top dozen scorers in the league. Collier leads the conference with 9.5 rebounds per contest. The Jennies lead the MIAA and rank 22nd nationally by outrebounding their opponents by 8.4 boards per contest.