SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Christian Kirk scored 16 points and Keith Pickens 14 as Missouri State defeated Loyola of Chicago 72-56 Tuesday night to stake out -- for the moment -- sole possession of third place in the Missouri Valley Conference, which begins its post-season tournament next week.
The Bears (19-10, 9-8 MVC) led wire-to-wire and forced 13 Loyola turnovers, outscoring the Ramblers (9-20, 4-13) off turnovers 15-2 in the first half alone.
Jarmar Gulley scored 10 points with 10 rebounds, his 15th straight game scoring in double figures.
Nixon led Loyola with 15 points off the bench. Joe Crisman added 14 before fouling out.
Missouri State is in a four-way scrum for third in the MVC and face unbeaten Wichita State on Saturday.
Maryland point guard Melo Trimble, considered a lock to leave the program before struggling in the second half last season, has withdrawn from the NBA draft and will return for his junior season.
Louisville's Chinanu Onuaku, who recently underwent a medical procedure to correct a heart rhythm issue detected during the combine, will keep his name in the NBA draft pool.
Andrew White III will return to the Nebraska men's basketball team next season after removing his name from the NBA draft.