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November 03, 2005

Eagles miss chances,
Fall to Tennessee, 86-78

@Tennessee 86, USI 78 (Exhibition)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.The University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team fell to the University of Tennessee, 86-78, Thursday night in its first exhibition game of the 2005-06 season. The contest marked the second time the Screaming Eagles and Head Coach Rick Herdes have faced former Head Coach and current Tennessee Head Coach Bruce Pearl in an exhibition.

USI surged past the Volunteers in the second half, erasing a 12-point deficit to grab a five point lead midway through the second period. However, the Eagles committed two turnovers in a 12-second span to help the Volunteers cap off a 6-0 run and turn the Eagles' five-point lead into a one-point deficit.

The Eagles committed 14 second-half turnovers and 27 for the game. Tennessee converted those turnovers into 27 points, 17 of which came in the final period.

USI had a chance to cut the lead to a point with a minute to play, but junior guard Melvin Hall's (Evansville, Indiana) three-pointer fell short and Tennessee's Dane Bradshaw grabbed the rebound to essentially seal the victory.

Senior forward Chris Thompson (Starke, Florida) scored 16 of his team-high 21 points in the second half to lead the way for the Eagles. Senior guard David Bryant (Louisville, Kentucky) added nine of his 13 points in the second period, while junior forward Keith Christmas (Gary, Indiana) scored eight of his 10 points in the closing half.

Thompson also collected seven of his game-high 11 rebounds in the second half as the Eagles turned a 21-14 halftime rebounding deficit into a 39-37 rebounding edge by game's end.

USI had a four-point lead in the first 10 minutes of the game and had a chance to cut into a four-point Tennessee lead in the closing seconds of the period. However, a turnover and a bucket by UT's C.J. Watson sent the Volunteers into the locker room with a 41-35 halftime advantage.

Junior forward Nick Brooks (Robinson, Illinois) led the Eagles in the first half, scoring all 11 of his points in the opening period.

The Volunteers frequented the free throw line 11 more times in the opening half than that of the Eagles. Tennessee was 15-of-18 in the first half from the stripe, while the Eagles were just 4-of-7 from the free throw line.

The Eagles did a better job in the second half of getting to the free throw line as they converted 14 of their 17 attempts, but foul trouble also sent the Volunteers to the line 19 times in the final period. Tennessee connected on 14 of those attempts to pull away from USI in the closing minutes of the game.

Tennessee was led by Watson, who was 12-of-12 from the line and finished with a game-high 27 points. Chris Lofton went 8-of-9 from the line to finish with 26 points in the Volunteer victory.

USI opens the 2005-06 regular season schedule November 11 when it takes on Caldwell College in the first round of the Disney Division II Tip-Off Classic in Orlando, Florida. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m. (CST).

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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