Indiana State (1-0) at Belmont (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 14, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Curb Event Center (5,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: ISU 1-0, Belmont 0-0. Away Record: ISU 0-0, Belmont 1-1. Neutral Record: ISU 0-0, Belmont 0-0. Conference Record: ISU 0-0, Belmont 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Belmont Bruins open their home schedule on Thursday night when they play host to the Indiana State Sycamores in non-conference action from the Curb Event Center.
Indiana State tipped off its season in fine fashion last Saturday, as it earned an 82-73 victory at home over Ball State. The Sycamores hope that the new campaign will bring with it similar success as 2012-13, when they finished 18-15 and qualified for the NIT to mark their fourth consecutive berth in a postseason tournament (2010 CBI, 2011 NCAA Tournament, 2012 CIT).
Belmont, the reigning Ohio Valley Conference champion, started this new season with two straight road contests, earning a win at Lipscomb (87-83) before falling at Richmond (69-61). The Bruins have one of the nation's best home court advantages, as they've gone an incredible 38-1 at the Curb Event Center since the start of the 2010-11 season.
Belmont and Indiana State have never previously met on the hardwood.
The Sycamores showed very little rust in their season opener, as they knocked down 56 percent of their field goal attempts (including 9-of-16 from 3-point range) while also converting 17-of-20 from the foul line. Dawon Cummings was the catalyst in the victory, pouring in 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, and he hopes that his hot start from long distance is a sign of things to come after making only 29.1 percent of his 3-pointers a season ago. Jake Odum was also outstanding in the first game with 17 points and seven assists, and he made good on all but one of his 11 free-throw attempts. Manny Arop tallied 14 points, and Justin Gant rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11. The Sycamores can expect similar balance in the future, as both Odum (13.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.6 apg) and Arop (12.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg) proved to be excellent contributors a season ago.
Belmont was not at its sharpest against Richmond earlier in the week, as it shot just 41.1 percent from the field, including a dismal 4-of-18 from long distance, and committed 16 turnovers. And while it was within single digits of the lead for most of the second half, the squad was never able to overtake the Spiders. Drew Windler made his presence felt in the frontcourt with 13 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, while Blake Jenkins also netted 13. Nick Smith came off the bench to score 10 points on a perfect 4-of-4 effort from the floor, but at the other end of the spectrum was JJ Mann, who was ice-cold at only 2-of-11. Through two games, the Bruins are allowing more points per game (76.0) than they are scoring themselves (74.0), due mostly to a cold start from 3-point range (10-of-40). Windler leads the way with 14.5 points per game, and despite missing all 14 of his shots from beyond the arc, Mann is still sitting at 12.5 points per game. Jenkins (11.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Reece Chamberlain (11.5 ppg, 3.5 apg) are also off to solid starts.
After Belmont lost several key pieces in the offseason -- including Ian Clark, Kerron Johnson and Trevor Noack -- this doesn't appear to be the same squad that has dominated the mid-major ranks in recent years. Even though Indiana State is a very good team, the Bruins still get the benefit of the doubt on their home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 79, Indiana State 74
11/14 10:35:32 ET