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January 08, 2003

USI men's basketball starts homestand with UMSL Thursday

The University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team, which is 6-0 at the Physical Activities Center this year, opens a three-game conference homestand Thursday evening, beginning with the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Game time following the USI-UMSL women's game is approximately 7:30 p.m.

The Screaming Eagles, 8-4 overall and 3-3 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, look to move over the .500 mark for the first time this season in the conference. USI started the year 0-2 in the GLVC, but has won three of its last four against league opponents.

The Eagles were 1-1 last week in the conference, falling at Lewis University, 76-69, and winning at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 90-77. The Eagles were led in the two games by junior forward Billy Harris (Carbondale, Illinois) with 15.0 ppg sophomore guard Cris Brunson (Evansville, Indiana), 14.5 ppg and senior forward Diond're Givens (Mt. Vernon, Indiana), 11.5 ppg.

Harris has had the hot hand for the Eagles in the last four games that he has been available for action. Despite missing one game with a bad ankle, Harris is averaging 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds.

Brunson tied a career high against SIUE, dropping in 26 points. The sophomore guard, who is second on the team in scoring with 14.8 ppg, is averaging 16.7 ppg and shooting 51.4 percent from long range (18-35) at home.

Given has led the Eagles in scoring all season, posting a career-best 16.6 ppg. He has scored in double figures 10 times in 12 games and is scoring at a 18.3 ppg clip at the PAC. The senior from Mt. Vernon, Indiana, also has led the Eagles in assists when not scoring in double figures.

The Rivermen of the University of Missouri-St. Louis come to Evansville with a 5-6 overall record, 2-4 in the GLVC. UMSL was 0-2 in last week's GLVC schedule, falling on the road to SIUE, 61-51, and Quincy University, 82-68.

Missouri-St. Louis features a trio of players scoring in double figures. Junior guard Ronnie Banks leads the Rivermen with 11.5 ppg. Freshmen guard Jonathan Griffin is a close second with 11.3 ppg and leads the squad with 7.3 rpg. UMSL junior forward Larry Wells rounds out the double figure scorers with 10.3 ppg.

The Eagles and the Rivermen split the season series last season, but USI leads the overall series, 14-10. The Eagles also have won the last three at the PAC.

Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information
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