NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's basketball returns to game action Saturday at [rv/--] Purdue.
The Bruins defeated Western Kentucky, 80-74, Dec. 19. Freshman Grayson Murphy (Thompson's Station, Tenn.) scored 20 points for Belmont. Murphy has made his presence felt on both ends of the floor for Belmont, ranking among OVC leaders in seven statistical categories, including assist-to-turnover ratio, steals and defensive rebounds. In addition, Murphy's 6.8 assists per game ranks 10th nationally, second among freshmen.
Like Murphy, senior Kevin McClain (Jennings, Fla.) has enjoyed a highly-productive and memorable season to date. The 6-3 guard has 24 assists over the Bruins' last three games, including a career-high eight assists vs. Western Kentucky Dec. 19. McClain was named OVC Player of the Week Dec. 17 following his heroics at UCLA, where he provided 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and the game-winning shot with 2.3 seconds left.
Belmont has five roster members from the state of Indiana: Dylan Windler (Indianapolis), Michael Benkert (Greenwood), Seth Adelsperger (Peru), Rilee Epley (Evansville) and Mack Mercer (Plymouth). In fact, Windler and Purdue senior Ryan Cline were teammates on the AAU Indiana Elite. Windler and Purdue junior Carsen Edwards are on numerous national player of the year award watch lists. Each was named preseason player of the year in their respective conferences.
Windler has five double-doubles to his credit this season, including 20 points and 11 rebounds vs. Western Kentucky Dec. 19.
Former Belmont All-American Ian Clark ('13) and former Purdue standout E'Twaun Moore are teammates on the New Orleans Pelicans.
Belmont head coach Rick Byrd and legendary Purdue head coach Gene Keady are on the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2019 ballot.
Interestingly, Belmont has not faced a member of the Big Ten Conference since playing Wisconsin in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Nashville is inexorably linked to Purdue and the state of Indiana this weekend; Purdue football faces Auburn in the Music City Bowl Friday, Purdue men's basketball hosts Belmont Saturday, and the Indianapolis Colts play at the Tennessee Titans Sunday.
This marks the second meeting between Belmont and Purdue. The Boilermakers won the previous meeting, Dec. 18, 2002.
Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. CT from historic Mackey Arena. The game will be broadcast on FS1 and the Fox Sports Go app. The live play-by-play can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network and the Belmont Gameday app. The game will also be carried nationwide on SiriusXM Ch. 381. Live in-game updates will be available via Twitter @BelmontMBB.
Belmont University men's basketball has earned postseason invitations 12 of the last 13 seasons, including seven automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins have won 16 conference championships since 2006 - third-most nationally over that span (Gonzaga, Kansas). Belmont is one of only six NCAA Division I programs outside the Power 5 to post Top 100 RPIs eight consecutive seasons (BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's (CA), San Diego State, Wichita State). Belmont is one of only nine NCAA Division I programs to win 19 or more games 13 consecutive seasons (BYU, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina, San Diego State). Belmont University men's basketball boasts an NCAA-leading 16 CoSIDA Academic All-America selections since 2001 and is one of only three NCAA Division I programs to make the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) Honor Roll every year of existence.