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February 24, 2009

USI goes on the road finish regular season
Eagles still in the hunt to host GLVC Tournament

USI Game Notes; NABC Division II Top 25

EVANSVILLE, Ind. The University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team goes on the road to finish the 2008-09 regular season and is in search of the right to host GLVC Tournament on March 6-8.

USI (23-5, 12-3 GLVC), to have a chance at hosting the tournament, will have to get past Drury University on Wednesday and Rockhurst University on Saturday. The USI-DU match-up on Wednesday is a make-up game from January 29, which was postponed due to the winter ice storm. Game time Wednesday at Drury is 8 p.m., while the tip-off on Saturday at Rockhurst is scheduled for 3 p.m.

The Screaming Eagles, who rose to 17th nationally in the latest NABC/Division II Top 25, have been on a roll, winning eight of their last nine games and completing a season sweep of the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Missouri University of Science and Technology last week. USI was led by junior guard and GLVC Player of the Week Jamar Smith (Peoria, Illinois), who averaged a team-best 25 points in the two games after dropping 21 points on UMSL and 29 points on MST.

For the season, Smith has been arguably one of the best players in the GLVC and has posted a team-high 18.1 points per game since joining the squad on December 30. He also is averaging 20.1 points per contest since becoming a starter nine games ago.

Junior forward Brandon Russ (Cincinnati, Ohio) follows Smith in the scoring column for the Eagles, averaging 13.6 points and a team-best 4.9 rebounds per games. Russ, who leads the GLVC and ranks third nationally in field goal percentage, has started seven of the last eight games and averaged 15.6 points per start.

The Panthers of Drury University (13-12, 6-9 GLVC) have struggled in the GLVC over the last month, losing eight of their last nine. Drury is led by senior forward Chris Ijames, who is posting 15.9 points per game and is dropping in 17.8 points per GLVC contest.

The USI-Drury all-time series is tied 4-4 after the Eagles won at the Physical Activities Center, 84-71, on February 7. The Eagles also are looking for their first season-series sweep of the Panthers since Drury joined the GLVC in 2005-06.

The Hawks of Rockhurst (18-8, 13-3 GLVC), whose only game this week is at home against USI, start the week with a half-game lead in the GLVC West over the Eagles. Rockhurst has won seven of eight games, including seven straight in the GLVC, since falling to USI in double-overtime, 98-92, on January 24.
Leading the way for the Hawks is junior guard Aaron Hill, who ranks second in the GLVC with a 20.6 points per game average.

USI leads the all-time series with Rockhurst, 6-2, after defeating the Hawks last month. The Eagles also are looking to complete the season-series sweep for the third time in four seasons since the Hawks joined the GLVC four years ago.

Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information

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