NORMAL — Missouri State was picked to finish third in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason basketball poll largely because junior guard Marcus Marshall was returning from knee surgery.
Now Marshall is gone for good and never coming back.
Marshall, who was averaging 19.5 points per game, asked for his release late last week and will transfer at the end of the semester. He was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team after a shootaround before last Wednesday's game against Evansville.
The Bears dropped to 8-10 overall and 2-4 in the Valley after Sunday's 60-46 loss at Northern Iowa.
"You lose a guy who got about 20 a game and 15 or 16 shots. As I told our guys there's not any one person who can make up for that. We don't have that kind of team," said Missouri State coach Paul Lusk during Monday's Missouri Valley Conference coaches teleconference.
Without the 6-foot-3 Marshall, who was the 2013 MVC Freshman of the Year, the Bears' leading scorer is sophomore guard Austin Ruder with an 8.8 average.
"It's just going to be having good possessions, try to get the ball inside, try and get a couple in transition if we can," said Lusk. "We have to get defensive stops and rebounds. We're going to have to do those two things to give ourselves a chance."
Beane out of slump?: Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson noted junior guard Anthony Beane still is shooting "three percent" from 3-point range in six Valley games. That's one made basket in 26 attempts outside the arc, which technically rounds up to four percent (.038).
However, the Normal Community High School graduate lifted SIU to its first league win Sunday — and broke a seven-game losing streak in the process — by scoring 18 of his 20 points in the second half of a 59-52 victory over Loyola.
"That's great, but what he did defensively was probably most important," said Hinson. "Finally we told all our guys to lose yourself defensively and quit worrying about offense."
After averaging 18.0 points in nonconference action, Beane has dropped to 11.0 in Valley games. He is shooting 29.6 percent overall from the field in league play for the Salukis (8-11, 1-5).
"I don't think people in the Valley have seen our team play yet," said Hinson. "That's the good news for us."
Road warrior: Illinois State's Daishon Knight struggled during road games last season, but has made a dramatic turnaround in his second season.
Knight ranks third in the country with a 19.7 scoring average (minimum four games) on the road. Only UC Davis' Corey Hawkins (24.1 ppg) and LSU's Keith Hornsby (19.8) have bettered Knight, who has scored 20-plus points in four of six games on an opponent's court.
Shocker streaks: Wichita State's 24-game conference winning streak is the third longest in Valley history. The only two longer are by ex-league members Kansas (34 from 1922-24) and Nebraska (29 from 1912-1915).
The Shockers also have won 26 straight at Koch Arena. That is the nation's fourth-longest home court winning streak behind Gonzaga (34), Arizona (32) and North Carolina Central (29).
Arch Madness ticket sale: Single-session tickets for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, known as Arch Madness, will be available beginning Tuesday.
The tourney is March 5-8 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. A limited number of lower bowl tickets are available.
Tickets can be purchased with a credit card at ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. Tickets also can be purchased at the ISU Athletic Ticket Office.