July 06, 2004
USI-UE basketball game becomes reality November 6
It’s only an exhibition game, but it certainly will be the most anticipated one in the history of Evansville’s two universities. The University of Evansville and University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball teams will play each other on Saturday, November 6 at 7:05 CST at Roberts Stadium in the first ‘Vectren Community Classic.’ Vectren and Kenny Kent Toyota Lexus Mitsubishi are sponsoring the game.
This will be the first meeting between the NCAA Division I Purple Aces and Division II Screaming Eagles in basketball. However, it continues a recent trend of games between the two schools. UE and USI played each other in men’s soccer and baseball this past school year, and will compete in men’s soccer and women’s soccer exhibition matches in August.
“Vectren is proud to play a role in bringing the two great universities of Evansville and their athletics departments together for this event,” says Rick Schach, vice president of energy delivery for Vectren. “More importantly, we are proud to help create an event that brings the community together.”
Tickets for the public will go on sale in mid-October. UE season ticket holders will receive correspondence later this month regarding ticket priority for the USI game.
“The recent soccer and baseball games between the two schools were outstanding events,” says UE Director of Athletics Bill McGillis. “Fans from both schools had fun, the players enjoyed the competition, and there was a great atmosphere surrounding the games. We know that same kind of spirit will be evident on the basketball court. The Vectren Community Classic is designed to bring the community together for a special event that will be fun for everyone.”
Added University of Southern Indiana Director of Athletics Jon Mark Hall, "USI is very pleased to be a part of this great community event. The city of Evansville has always had a great basketball tradition and this game is the proper tip-off to another great collegiate basketball season."
Both schools have outstanding traditions in men’s basketball. Evansville won five NCAA College Division national championships before moving to the Division I level in 1977. Since then, the Purple Aces have played in five NCAA Tournaments (1982, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1999) and two National Invitation Tournaments (1988, 1994). USI has reached the NCAA Division II Tournament in 11 of the past 12 years, winning the national championship in 1995 and finishing second in 1994 and this year. The Eagles have won 22 games or more every year since 1993.
Evansville in 2004-05 will try to improve upon a 7-22 record. Gone is Clint Cuffle, UE’s leading scorer (13.8) and rebounder (6.2), and an Academic All-American for the last two seasons. Returning are four other starters and a total of 10 letterwinners. Top returning players include senior guards Andre Burton (9.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.8 apg) and Lucious Wagner (8.8, 3.1, 4.6), sophomore center Bradley Strickland (6.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, MVC-leading 1.3 blocked shots per game), sophomore forward/center Matt Webster (7.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg) and sophomore guard Kyle Anslinger (5.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg).
USI loses starters Joe Gordon (11.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg), Billy Harris (10.2, 6.9) and Avery Queen (6.5, 1.8, 5.1 apg) from last season’s 28-7 team that reached the NCAA Division II championship game, but returns forward Randy Holbrook (11.1, 5.2), guard Cris Brunson (10.8, 1.7, 2.1 apg), and forward Geoff Van Winkle (8.7, 2.7). Holbrook was USI’s “CBS Player of the Game” in the championship finale, while Brunson was the NCAA II Great Lakes Regional Most Outstanding Player.
“This is a quality opponent,” UE coach Steve Merfeld says about playing USI. “The purpose of the game is to help each other in getting ready for the regular season. People say there’s a risk when a Division I school plays a Division II school, but there’s a risk every time you play a game. The players will enjoy this game, the fans will enjoy it, and most importantly to<