USI Mens Basketball set for playoff push

USI set for playoffs

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - As March approaches in the college basketball world, that means a chance at a conference title, and one very big tournament is on the radar.

That’s no different on the campus of USI as the Screaming Eagles are coming off a huge upset win over 19th-ranked Missouri St. Louis on Saturday.

The victory pushed USI to a five-game win streak and moved into a tie for third in the GLVC standings.

The Screaming Eagles are no stranger to the post-season. They are reigning conference champs and coming off a final four appearance in 2019.

We stopped by practice Tuesday and the team says how important the victory over UMSL was along with what it’s going to take to make a deep run in March.

“In the last four minutes, we were hyperfocused, we were really locked in," said USI head coach, Rodney Watson. "We came into a timeout, and Kobe said ‘we’re fine’ and everybody looked at him, and they believed him, and we really dialed in with about a 15-4 run at that point. Everybody’s gotta believe, everyone’s gotta want the same thing, we gotta wanna play in March. Now is the time for our guys to really dial in for one common goal.”

“I think it was a statement for us this year. Knowing that they beat us last time, it was a big win for us going into this final stretch," said USI junior guard, Mateo Rivera. "It’s a new year, teams come back stronger, some teams don’t. It’s gonna come down to who’s mentally strong coming down that stretch.”

It’s a split schedule for the Eagles in the final four regular-season games. A trip to Springfield, Illinois is set Thursday night for a doubleheader.

The USI women are set to tip at 5:30 p.m. with the men set to play at 7:30 p.m.

The Eagles return home on Saturday to host Lewis.

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