Bears Highlights

General Information

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Missouri Valley (1990-present)
Past Conferences: Mid-Continent
City: Springfield, Mo.
Arena: Great Southern Bank Arena
NCAA Tournaments: 6 (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1999)


National Championships: None
Conference Tournament Titles: 3 (1987, 1989, 1992)
Conference Regular Season Titles: 5 (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2011)

Team History

The Missouri State Bears are a Division I program located in Springfield, Mo. Missouri State — which before 2005 was known as Southwest Missouri State — currently plays in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Before transitioning to Division I in 1982, the Bears had a rich history of success at the NAIA and Division II levels. They won back-to-back NAIA national titles in 1952 and 1953, then made the Division II NCAA Tournament 10 times between 1958-78. In four of those years (1959, 1967, 1969, 1974) they finished as the national runner-up.

Missouri State hasn’t had the same good fortune at the Division I level, but it does have one memorable tournament run on its ledger. In 1999, the 12th-seeded Bears overcame long odds by knocking off fifth-seeded Wisconsin and fourth-seeded Tennessee, before falling in the Sweet Sixteen to No. 1 Duke, 78-61.

First Tournament Appearance

The Bears made their first tournament appearance in 1987 and advanced to the round of 32 after upsetting No. 4 Clemson as a 13 seed. They returned four out of the next five seasons, losing each time in the first round.

With seven 20-win seasons since that surprising regional semifinal run, the Bears have yet to make it back to the Big Dance. In 2021-22, Missouri State had to settle for an appearance in the National Invitational Tournament despite winning 23 games. It was the school’s 10th trip to the NIT and the first since 2011, when it won the MVC regular season title.

In 2018, the program hired Dana Ford to replace Paul Lusk as head coach. Ford had spent the previous four seasons at Tennessee State, where he finished .500 or better three times and was named the Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2016.

With a full recruiting class now under Ford’s belt at Missouri State, expectations have begun to rise. The Bears were ranked fourth in the 2022-23 MVC preseason poll, behind Drake, Bradley, and Southern Illinois.

All-Time Records

  • Points Scored

    • Kyle Weems: 1,868
    • Johnny Murdock: 1,834
    • Danny Moore: 1,691
  • Rebounds

    • Kyle Weems: 844
    • Alize Johnson: 735
    • Tamarr Maclin: 697
  • Assists

    • William Fontleroy: 471
    • Arnold Bernard: 456
    • Brian Smith: 425


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