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February 18, 2004

USI men's basketball starts final stretch on the road

Game Notes

The 13th–ranked University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team will begin the stretch run of the regular season with a pair of contests on the road this week. USI travels to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in Edwardsville, Illinois, Thursday, February 19, and Lewis University Saturday, February 21, in Romeoville, Illinois.

At 19-4 overall and 12-4 in the GLVC, the Screaming Eagles will be shooting to record their 12th straight 20-win season. USI also will be looking for a season sweep SIUE and a split with Lewis University.

The Eagles are coming off of their 117-78 victory over the University of Missouri-St. Louis last Saturday. The 117 points was a season-high for the Eagles in 2003-04.

USI is off to a fabulous 3-0 start to February after suffering through January with a 5-4 record. The Eagles' offensive machine has been hitting on all cylinders during February, averaging 101.3 ppg in the three conference contests.

For the season, USI is led by senior center John Oden (St. Louis, Missouri) with 13.5 ppg. Oden is followed by senior guard Joe Gordon (Palm Bay, Florida) with 11.3 ppg senior forward Billy Harris (Carbondale, Illinois) with 10.8 ppg and junior center Randy Holbook (St. Louis, Missouri) with 10.7 ppg. Harris is averaging a team-high 6.5 rpg.

The first stop on the road for USI are the Cougars of SIUE (13-10, 9-8 GLVC). The Eagles won the first meeting with the Cougars, 82-68, at the Physical Activities Center three weeks ago.

USI junior guard Cris Brunson (Evansville, Indiana) led the Eagles to the win over SIUE with 24 points, hitting 10-of-13 from the field and four-of-six from beyond the three-point arc. Freshman forward Geoff Van Winkle (Ferdinand, Indiana), who is averaging 11.4 ppg since January 1, followed Brunson with 14 points. The Cougars were led in the loss by junior guard Terry Hackstadt, who had 22 points.

Overall, the Cougars have won four of their last five since losing to the Eagles in January. They had their four-game winning streak stopped at Bellarmine University, 89-67, last weekend. Hackstadt leads SIUE in 2003-04 with 12.2 ppg, while senior guard Ron Jones follows with 11.6 ppg.

USI leads the all-time series with SIUE, 39-15, and has won the last eight meetings with the Cougars.

USI's final road game of the regular season will be at Lewis (19-4, 13-3 GLVC) on Saturday. The Eagles will be looking for a little payback since Lewis gave USI the only blemishing on its home record by winning 82-77 at the PAC on January 2.

Saturday's game will have ramifications throughout the GLVC and the Great Lakes Region. The Flyers start the week a half-game ahead of USI in the GLVC standings and will host Kentucky Wesleyan College on Thursday before hosting the Eagles. The USI-Lewis match-up on Saturday could be the first step in determining who could host the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region.

In the loss to Lewis, Oden led the Eagles with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He was followed by Van Winkle with 19 points, while senior forward Clarence Chillers (Chicago, Illinois) and Gordon dropped in 11 points each.

The Flyers had a balanced attack against the Eagles in January with five players scoring in double figures, led by senior forward Monta McGhee with 17 points. Senior center Sydney Holmes also posted a double-double in the game with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

For the season, McGhee leads the Flyers with 18.7 ppg and 8.7 rpg. Senior guard Demitrius Hunter follows McGhee with 12.3 ppg.

USI will enter Saturday's game leading the all-time series, 28-20, and has won five of the last eight games.

Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information

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