The 13th-ranked University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team returns to the friendly surroundings of the Physical Activities Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday when it hosts sixth-ranked Bellarmine University. The Screaming Eagles return to the road Saturday when they visit McKendree University for a 3:15 p.m. contest.
USI (14-3, 7-2 GLVC) completed the first of two three-game road swings with a 2-1 mark after posting a 19-point win at third-ranked Kentucky Wesleyan College, a loss at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and a thrilling one-point win at Lewis University. The Eagles also remain in a tie for first in the GLVC East Division with Bellarmine and UW-Parkside.
The Eagles fell three spots to 13th in the NABC/Division II Top 25, while Bellarmine rose to sixth. USI and Bellarmine were joined in the national poll by the University of Indianapolis (15th) and Kentucky Wesleyan College (18th). Drury University received votes for this poll.
Leading the way on the court for USI is junior forward Orlando Rutledge (Louisville, Kentucky), who is averaging 15.6 points per game overall. He also posted a team-high 15.7 point per contest during the three-game road swing.
Following Rutledge in the scoring column is senior center Keith DeWitt (High Point, North Carolina) and junior forward Taylor Wischmeier (Brownstown, Indiana) with 11.3 and 10.9 points per appearance, respectively. DeWitt also leads USI in rebounding with 8.9 boards per game, while Wischmeier is grabbing 5.1 rebounds per outing.
On the road swing, junior guard Lawrence Thomas (Springfield, Illinois) was second to Rutledge in the scoring column with 13.0 points per game. He also had a season-high 20 points in the victory at Lewis. Wischmeier rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10.0 points per visit.
The Knights of Bellarmine (15-2, 7-2 GLVC) are in the midst of a five-game winning streak, bouncing back from back-to-back losses at Maryville University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Bellarmine's visit to USI is the end of a four-game road swing for the Knights.
USI leads the all-time series, 45-32, and took two of three from Bellarmine last year. Both of the Eagle wins came when the Knights were ranked number one nationally. USI also holds a 9-2 advantage at the PAC since 2000.
The Bearcats of McKendree (7-12, 1-8 GLVC) are hosting USI for the first time in GLVC play on Saturday. McKendree, currently, has lost seven in a row since posting their first GLVC win over Quincy University at home to start the New Year.
McKendree leads the all-time series with USI, 6-2, but the Eagles won the last meeting at the PAC in 2010-11, 90-68.
Coverage of the Eagles' GLVC games, including live stats and audio/video broadcasts, is available at gousieagles.com. The USI action also can be heard on ESPN 106.7FM and WPSR 90.7FM.