Thursday, March 30, 2023
Eagle Eye Sports Monitor

MBB-FCS: Indiana State Sycamores (20-9) at Belmont Bruins (19-10)

Belmont University men’s basketball returns to game action Wednesday vs. Indiana State.

Belmont leads the Missouri Valley Conference in offensive efficiency and has the best defensive foul rate in league games.

Senior Ben Sheppard is building off his all-conference season a year ago and has established himself as one of the most complete players in college basketball. The Atlanta native ranks among MVC leaders in 19 statistical categories, including second in total points, points per game, field goals made and fourth in field goal percentage and 3-point field goals made. He is among a select group of active college basketball players with over 1,400 career points, 450 rebounds, 200 assists and 100 steals. Sheppard has scored 238 points over his last 11 games, including seven games of 20+ points. He flirted with his first career triple-double vs. Evansville before finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Sheppard was named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week Feb. 6, becoming the first player to receive the honor three times this season.

Keishawn Davidson had a season-high 10 assists vs. Missouri State, one of only five MVC players to record double figure assists in a game this season. 
Davidson was named Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week Dec. 19. He currently ranks second in the MVC in assist-turnover ratio and fourth in assists per game. Davidson has five or more assists in 12 games this season. He scored a season-high 23 points at Chattanooga and had 11 points at Drake.
Cade Tyson has made an instant impact on both ends of the floor for the Bruins, currently leading the MVC in scoring among freshmen (13.2). Tyson scored a season-high 20 points vs. Missouri State and has scored in double figures in 22 of his 27 game appearances. His game-winning shot in Belmont’s season-opening victory over Ohio earned Tyson ESPN SCTop10 No. 1 play. The Monroe, North Carolina native ranks among league leaders in total shooting percentage – which account for 2-point and 3-point field goal attempts.

Fellow freshman Ja’Kobi Gillespie has also made his presence felt this season. The Greeneville, Tennessee native currently ranks among league leaders in assists and steals. His six steals vs. George Mason remains the conference single-game standard. Gillespie has 42 assists over his last 12 games, with a season-high 18 points and six assists at Evansville. His acrobatic catch and dunk secured Belmont’s victory over Bradley Dec. 28.

Graduate student Drew Friberg is third on the team in scoring at 11.4 points per game. He scored a career-high 24 points at Georgia State and recorded 14 points and six rebounds vs. Illinois State. Friberg leads the MVC with 92 3-point field goals, and is one of two players in college basketball to rank Top 10 nationally in 3-point field goals and 3-point field goal percentage.
Even Brauns has recorded double figure scoring in seven conference games, including double-doubles in three of his last seven games. Brauns had a season-high 18 points and 12 rebounds vs. Illinois State Feb. 4 and posted a Curb Event Center record seven blocked shots vs. Murray State Jan. 17. He ranks among league leaders in offensive rebounding and blocked shots.

Belmont has scored 313 bench points in Missouri Valley Conference games, including a season-high 33 bench points at Valparaiso Jan. 10 and 31 vs. UIC Feb. 11.What’s Bruin

  • The Bruins went 25-8 last season in earning an at-large bid to the Postseason NIT.
  • After having one of the most experienced teams in college basketball in 2021-22, Belmont lost seven of its top eight scorers from last year’s team, most notably program legends Grayson Murphy – the all-time leader in assists and steals in Ohio Valley Conference history – and Nick Muszynski.
  • Belmont welcomes nine newcomers, including redshirt freshman Isaiah Walker, graduate transfer Drew Friberg and three-year Tennessee Tech starter Keishawn Davidson.
  • Belmont’s 77 victories over the last three seasons ranks fifth nationally (Gonzaga, Kansas, Houston, Baylor; entering 2022-23).
  • Belmont has posted 332 conference wins since 2003 (includes tournament), with Gonzaga nationally.
  • Belmont’s 408 victories since 2007 leads the state of Tennessee – including Tennessee, Memphis and Vanderbilt.
  • Belmont has won 20+ games and earned postseason play 15 of the last 17 years. That includes NCAA Tournament appearances in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2019 & 2020.
  • Belmont has won 20 conference championships (eight tournament, 12 regular season) since 2006. Only Gonzaga and Kansas have won more conference championships over that span.
  • Belmont is the only school in the nation to win 20 or more games seven consecutive seasons in men’s and women’s basketball.
  • Belmont has been ranked in the Mid-Major Top 25 for 18 consecutive seasons, dating back to 2006. The Bruins were No. 21 in the Mid-Major Top 25 preseason poll.
  • Belmont won an OVC-record 30 consecutive conference games from Jan. 30, 2020-Feb. 24, 2021.
  • Belmont went a league-best 145-27 (.843) in Ohio Valley Conference conference games from 2013-22 (81-5 home, 64-22 away).
  • Belmont has received national poll votes in 11 of the last 12 seasons.
  • Belmont will play up to 13 games vs. teams who earned postseason play in 2021-22, and up to 17 games vs. team who were Q1/Q2 in the final 2021-22 NET rankings.

This marks the third meeting between Belmont and Indiana State. The Bruins split a home-and-home series during the 2013-14 season.

Belmont’s 96-95 victory over Indiana State Nov. 14, 2013 ranks among the most exciting games in Curb Event Center history. Six Bruins scored in double figures led by eventual OVC Player of the Year JJ Mann with 23 points.

The state of Indiana has been an essential part of the Bruin program. Recent Bruins from the Hoosier state include Cleveland Cavalier guard Dylan Windler (Indianapolis), Seth Adelsperger (Peru), Michael Benkert (Greenwood), Mack Mercer (Plymouth), Jeff Laidig (Mishawaka), Adam Mark (Bremen), Steve Drabyn (LaPorte) and Jordan Campbell (Indianapolis). Class of 2023 signee Sam Orme is from Carmel, Indiana.

Former Belmont guard Spencer Turner (’15) is the son of former Indiana State forward Scott Turner, who played on the 1979 National Runner-Up team.

Belmont director of athletic communications Luke Bolanos worked with Indiana State head coach Josh Schertz at Lincoln Memorial.

Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. CT from the Curb Event Center.

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