Nov 05, 2019
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's basketball opens the 2019-20 season Wednesday at Illinois State.
First-year head coach Casey Alexander takes the helm following the retirement of hall of fame coach Rick Byrd. Byrd won 805 career games, 12th all-time in college basketball history.
Alexander, a 1995 Belmont graduate, returns to his alma mater after spending the past six seasons as head coach at Lipscomb University. He led the Bisons to their best two-year run of the NCAA Division I era, an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018 and a 29-8 record last season which featured victories over TCU, Davidson, UNC Greensboro, NC State and Wichita State en route to the Postseason NIT championship game.
Alexander spent 16 seasons as part of Byrd's coaching staff, during which Belmont won 287 games. Over Alexander's final eight seasons, the Bruins tallied 172 victories, six postseason appearances (four NCAA Tournaments, one NIT, one CIT), four Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championships, four Atlantic Sun Conference tournament titles, a remarkable 132-41 record in Atlantic Sun play, and road victories over Missouri, Alabama, and Cincinnati.
Alexander's final season as a Byrd assistant in 2011 was arguably the finest in program history; Belmont went 30-5 and led the nation in scoring margin.
Belmont went 27-6 last season, earning the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament at-large bid and tournament victory.
In 2019, Belmont claimed its 10th regular season conference championship in 14 years, fifth in seven years of OVC membership.
Belmont is adjusting to life after the graduation of All-OVC performers Dylan Windler and Kevin McClain. Windler was selected 26th in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, while McClain played NBA Summer League with the Golden State Warriors before signing a professional playing contract in Germany.
The Belmont coaching staff welcomes 10 returning letterwinners, including Preseason All-OVC selections sophomores Grayson Murphy (Franklin, Tenn.) and Nick Muszynski (Pickerington, Ohio). Murphy ranks ninth among returning players in college basketball in assists from 2019, and led the OVC in assist-to-turnover ratio, while Muszynski joined NBA Champion Ian Clark as the second Belmont player of the NCAA Division I era to earn Freshman All-America honors.
This marks the second meeting between Belmont and Illinois State. The Bruins won last season at the Curb Event Center.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and the ESPN app. The live play-by-play can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network. In-game updates will be available via Twitter @BelmontMBB. Fans are also encouraged to follow Belmont men's basketball on Instagram @belmont_mbb.
Belmont University men's basketball has earned postseason invitations 13 of the last 14 seasons, including eight berths to the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins have won 17 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 nine 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 14 consecutive seasons (BYU, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina, San Diego State). Belmont University men's basketball boasts an NCAA-leading 17 CoSIDA Academic All-America selections since 2001 and is the only NCAA Division I program to make the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) Honor Roll every year of existence.