Belmont OVC Championship Game Preview

Belmont OVC Championship Game Preview

EVANSVILLE, Ind. - - Belmont University men's basketball returns to game action Saturday vs. Murray State in the 2018 OVC Basketball Championship.

Belmont defeated Austin Peay, 94-79, Friday night in the OVC semifinal round. Senior Amanze Egekeze (Lake in the Hills, Ill.) scored a career-high 32 points and tied the OVC Tournament single-game record with nine 3-point field goals. The 6-8 forward made nine consecutive 3-pointers, including eight straight in the first 11 minutes of the second half.

Senior point guard Austin Luke (Rowlett, Texas) had 18 points, a career-high 13 assists and five rebounds, while junior Dylan Windler (Indianapolis, Ind.) had his 15th double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Egekeze, Luke and Windler were named All-OVC First Team Tuesday.

Belmont is 7-1 lifetime in conference tournament championship games, having won its first six championship games, including five as member of the Atlantic Sun Conference (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012). The Bruins also won the 2013 OVC Championship (def. Murray State 70-68 ot) and 2015 OVC Championship (def. No. 24 Murray State 88-87).

Conference Championship Game history:
2015: def. No. 24 Murray State, 88-87
2014: def. by Eastern Kentucky, 73-79
2013: def. Murray State, 70-68 ot
2012: def. Florida Gulf Coast, 83-69
2011: def. North Florida, 87-46
2008: def. Jacksonville, 79-61
2007: def. ETSU, 94-67
2006: def. Lipscomb, 74-69 ot

In the 2013 OVC Championship at Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Kerron Johnson ('13) sank the game-tying and game-winning shots to lift Belmont over Murray State and into the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Johnson currently plays for MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany.

n the 2015 OVC Championship at Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Taylor Barnette sank a three-pointer with 3.2 seconds remaining to lift Belmont to a dramatic 88-87 victory over [25/24] Murray State to secure the Bruins' seventh NCAA Tournament berth in 10 years. Barnette's shot was named ESPN/Capital One Impact Performance of Championship Week and was an ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 play for March. 

The 2013 OVC co-Players of the Year - Ian Clark of Belmont and Isaiah Canaan of Murray State - have gone onto solid young careers in the NBA. Clark, a 2017 NBA Champions, currently plays for the New Orleans Pelicans and Canaan for the Phoenix Suns.

Belmont Director of Basketball Operations Tyler Holloway was a four-year letterwinner at Murray State from 2006-09. Holloway scored 1,083 career points, and played three seasons for former Murray State head coach Steve Prohm when Prohm served as an assistant coach to Billy Kennedy.

Former Belmont Director of Athletics Mike Strickland held the same position at Murray State from 1987-96. Strickland retired following the 2015-16 academic year. 

This marks the 14th meeting between Belmont and Murray State.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and the ESPN app. The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network. In-game updates will be available via Twitter @BelmontMBB.

Belmont OVC Championship Game Notes