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Leonard, Missouri State beat Illinois State 68-64

Jan 2, 2010 - 3:11 AM By JOHN MARSHALL AP Sports Writer

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.(AP) -- Adam Leonard scored 20 points and made several key plays down the stretch, and Kyle Weems added 19 points to help Missouri State hold off Illinois State 68-64 Friday night.

Missouri State (12-1, 2-0 Missouri Valley Conference) rode its starters for most of the game, never able to pull away until the closing seconds in its biggest win so far. Jermaine Mallett added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Bears in their first home game since Dec. 9.

Illinois State (10-3, 1-1) clawed back after numerous Missouri State runs, pulling even in the closing seconds before coming up just short. Jackie Carmichael had 14 points, Osiris Eldridge 13 and Dinma Odiakosa 11 for the Redbirds.

An 11-win team a year ago, Missouri State has used scrappy defense and interchangeable parts on offense for its best start since opening 13-1 under Steve Alford in 1996-97.