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 3 1/2 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 - 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 - 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