January 14, 2003
USI men's basketball can make a move in the standings this week
The University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team can make a move in the Great Lakes Valley Conference standings when its hosts Bellarmine University and front-running Northern Kentucky University this week at the Physical Activities Center. USI will host Bellarmine Thursday, January 16, at 7:30 p.m. and Northern Kentucky Saturday, January 18, at 3:15 p.m.
The Screaming Eagles need a pair of victories to keep pace with the top five teams in the GLVC. USI, 4-3 in the GLVC, enter the week a half-game behind Lewis University at 5-3 one game behind Kentucky Wesleyan College and the University of Indianapolis, who are both 5-2 in the conference and two-games behind NKU, which is on top of the league with a 7-1 conference mark.
The Eagles, 9-4 overall, started their latest three-game homestand with an 85-61 victory over the University of Missouri-St. Louis last Thursday. Senior forward Diond're Givens (Mt. Vernon, Indiana) led four players in double figures with 17 points.
A major difference in the game was at the line with four of USI's five starters combining to hit a perfect 14 of 14 at the stripe. Givens, junior forward Billy Harris (Carbondale, Illinois), sophomore forward Dennis Coutee (Jeffersonville, Indiana), and sophomore guard Cris Brunson (Evansville, Indiana) have combined to hit their last 40 free throws.
For the season, Givens leads three Screaming Eagles in double figure scoring with 16.6 points. Givens is averaging 7.9 points above his career average and has raised his free throw percentage from 42.6 percent (20-47) last season to 91.2 percent (31-34) as a senior.
Givens is followed in the scoring column by Brunson. The sophomore guard is recording 14.7 points per contest after averaging 15.9 points in his last nine starts. He averaged just 12.0 ppg in the first four games of the year.
The hottest Eagle in the last six games is Harris. The junior forward, who also saw time at the center position against UMSL, has put together five straight games in double figure scoring (15.4 ppg) and is now averaging 11.0 ppg for the season.
First up for the Eagles this week is a rematch with the Knights of Bellarmine. USI will be looking for some payback after losing to the Knights, 82-80, in Louisville on December 2. The Eagles lost control of a 21-point lead in the loss when the Knights hit five of seven three-point field goals, including the game winner, in the final 10 minutes.
USI was led in the loss by junior forward Clarence Chillers (Chicago, Illinois) with 17 points, while Coutee was second on the squad with 13 points. Bellarmine's top scorer was senior guard Brad Ayer, who had 26 points.
For the season, Bellarmine is 7-9 overall and 2-5 in the GLVC after losing 65-62 to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and winning 110-101 over Quincy University last week. The Knights are led by junior guard Zach Miller with 14.7 points per outing. Miller is trailed by Ayer and junior forward Justin Cornell with 13.6 ppg each.
Despite the loss in December, USI still leads the series with Bellarmine, 35-24, and has won the last four at the PAC.
USI concludes this week's action and the homestand with a Saturday afternoon contest with Northern Kentucky. The Eagles and the Norse split the season series last year with NKU winning at home, 83-82 in overtime, while USI won 99-90 at the PAC. USI leads the all-time series with NKU, 32-14, and has won the last five at the PAC,
The Norse, ranked 12th in last week's national poll, are coming off of a 2-0 week in the GLVC that placed them on top of the league standings. NKU, 13-2 overall, defeated Lewis, 83-71, and SIUE, 77-63, in Highland Heights last week.
For the season, NKU is led by senior guard Brenden Stowers with 15.1 ppg and 3.5 assists per game. He is followed by sophomore guard Mike Kelsey with 14.0 ppg.
Stowers is the Norse's t