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.
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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.