A grueling stretch of games continues for the Truman men's basketball team this Thursday and Saturday, as the Bulldogs look to rebound from its first loss in nearly a month by hosting two of the Great Lakes Valley Conference's recurring front-runners in Southern Indiana and Bellarmine (Ky.).
The Bulldogs (15-4, 8-3 GLVC) will welcome the 15th-ranked Screaming Eagles of USI at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6, before bringing in the Knights of Bellarmine at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8.
BU had been ranked as high as No. 2 in the top-25 before falling out of the coaches' poll two weeks ago. The Knights were once again the top team "out" in this week's poll.
Truman, meanwhile, holds a firm grip on second place in the GLVC West division after last week's split of home games against division rivals Missouri S&T and 5th-ranked Drury.
The Bulldogs got a program single-game record 48 points from senior Mike Carlson in a 109-105 overtime win against the Miners on Jan. 30 before coming up on the short side of an 88-78 decision with DU on Feb. 1.
The Bulldogs, now two games back of Drury in the West, continue to sit two games ahead of Missouri-St. Louis and a full 3½ games in front of Maryville for third and fourth place in the division.
Through games of February 2, the Bulldogs are the nation's No. 4-ranked team in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Truman also sits amongst the Div. II top-10% in scoring margin (21st), free throw percentage (23rd), and turnover margin (27th).
On an individual level, junior guard Reed Mells remains the nation's leader in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.74-to-1, while also ranking 34th in assists per game.
He also is in the GLVC top-3 in both categories (leading A-T Ratio).
Senior forward Mike Carlson sits 23rd in Div. II points per game (21.0) and 60th in field goal percentage (56.6%).
He also is in the GLVC top-10 in scoring (3rd), blocked shots (7th), and free throw percentage (8th), while ranking 12th in rebounding.
Sophomore guard Cole Myers is the 9th-best three-point shooter by percentage in the GLVC, checking in at 44.2% on the season.
Fellow sophomore Andrew Vander Zwaag is 14th in three-pointers made per game at 2.0.
USI brings in the most consistent playoff experience of any GLVC program, having reached 24 NCAA Div. II tournaments â?? including each of the last three years and having only missed out three times since the 1992-93 season.
The Screaming Eagles also have a national championship to their name â?? having brought home the title in 1995.
This season, USI is poised to make another postseason run, having won its first 11 en route to its current 16-3 record.
The Eagles are coming off a 2-0 weekend at home against Ill.-Springfield (W 90-72) and McKendree (W 90-74) that followed an 0-2 trip through a pair of games at Lewis & UW-Parkside.
Senior Aaron Nelson is the team-leader both in scoring (20.2 ppg) and rebounding (13.1), while having also amassed 29 blocks. He is joined in double-figures by guard Lawrence Thomas (10.5 ppg; 27 3FG) and Orlando Rutledge, who checks in at 10.3 ppg.
The squad lives on the glass, posting a +16.0 rebounding margin while attacking the glass to a tune of 14.1 offensive rebounds per game.
Rodney Watson is in his fifth season at the helm of the USI program, having compiled a 111-27 record at the school.
Courtesy Truman State University