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November 04, 2008

Eagles fly south to start 2008-09
USI to play two ranked teams in Tip-Off Classic


EVANSVILLE, Ind. The University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team opens the 2008-09 regular season campaign in search of a fourth Disney Division II Tip-Off Classic championship when it starts play Friday at Disney's Wide World of Sports. The Screaming Eagles start the tournament against Saint Martin's University Friday at 11 a.m. (CST).

USI continues the tournament Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (CST) against eighth-ranked Minnesota State University and concludes tournament action Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (CST) versus third-ranked Bentley College. Fans can follow all of the action on ESPN 106.7FM.

The Eagles have had a lot of success in Division II's version of the Preseason NIT, going 11-1 with three titles in four trips. USI won the inaugural tournament in 1997, followed by titles in 2005 and 2006. The squad also had one third-place showing in 2001.

USI begins the regular season campaign after an exciting double-overtime loss to the University of Evansville, 71-67. USI took the cross-town Division I opponent to the brink, posting a four-point half-time lead and a pair of eight-point margins in the second half.

USI senior forward Anthony Pimble (Bronx, New York) and junior forward/center Brandon Russ (Cincinnati, Ohio) led the way for the Eagles with 15 points each. Pimble also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.

Saint Martin's commences this season's action after posting a 13-14 record a year ago. The Saints return four starters from a team that tied for fifth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and averaged 77.7 points per game.

The Mavericks of MSU finished 22-7 a year ago and advanced to their fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament. MSU also returns three starters from last year's squad that averaged 80.5 points per game and won the North Central Conference.

The Bentley Falcons were 34-1 a year ago and concluded the season in the 2008 Elite Eight semifinals. The Falcons return four starters from a team that won the Northeast-10 Conference and averaged 78.0 points per contest.

The three games will be the first-ever meetings between USI and its opponents in the Tip-Off Classic.

Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information

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