SIU-E Announces Men's Basketball Schedule

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Published on August 29 2012 6:28 pm
Last Updated on August 29 2012 6:28 pm
Written by Millie Lange

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Nonconference matchups with Missouri, SIU Carbondale and Saint Louis, and a new divisional setup for Ohio Valley Conference play highlight SIUE's 2012-13 men's basketball schedule released today. SIUE also is eligible for the OVC Championships for the first time in 2013.

"This is a very challenging schedule," Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "The nonconference portion is a good mix of schools from high majors down. I think it will prepare us well for our OVC schedule."

The Cougars will host SIU Carbondale and travel for games at Missouri and Saint Louis. Regional rivals Western Illinois and Northern Illinois also are on SIUE's nonconference ledger.

SIUE opens the regular season at Missouri Nov. 10. The Tigers were Big 12 champions a season ago and now play in the Southeastern Conference. The Salukis come to Edwardsville Nov. 20 for the first time since the 1986-1987 season. The Cougars played in Carbondale last season. SIUE and SLU will clash Dec. 28 at SLU's Chaifetz Arena. The two schools have met seven times in men's basketball but not since the 1982 season.  The Billikens won 26 games last season and advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament.

"It's good for us to be able to play naturally respected local teams," Forrester continued. "These are teams that our local fans are seeing on TV already. These programs have rich traditions."

Forrester will face a coach he once worked for in Jim Crews at Saint Louis. Crews is taking over at SLU while head coach Rick Majerus takes a medical leave of absence. Crews was the head coach at Evansville during Forrester's 10-year term as an assistant.

"He's been such a huge mentor to me on and off the floor," Forrester said. "I wish the circumstances were different, but I know his team will be well-coached and well-prepared."

SIUE faces Western Illinois twice. The Cougars will host the Leathernecks Nov. 14 before making a return trip to Macomb Dec. 8. Western Illinois won 18 games last season, falling in overtime in the Summit League championship. The Leathernecks lost to Oregon State in the CBI Tournament. SIUE also will travel to DeKalb for the game against Northern Illinois December 5. The game is a return game from last year's Bracket Buster games, won by SIUE in Edwardsville.

The OVC has expanded to 12 teams with the addition of Belmont to the league. Because of that, the OVC will play in two different divisions. SIUE will compete in the West Division with Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Murray State, Southeast Missouri, and UT Martin. The East Division consists of Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, Tennessee State, and Tennessee Tech. The Cougars will meet each of their five division rivals twice while facing each of the six East Division teams just once during the year to complete their 16-game OVC schedule.

"From a travel standpoint, divisions make a lot of sense," Forrester said of the new format. "Within your division you can start to create great rivalries because each are close, and fans from both schools can travel easily."

SIUE opens the OVC schedule January 3 with a game against Morehead State. The OVC Championships take place March 6-9 in Nashville, Tenn. Eight teams will qualify for the OVC Championships.

"We've been preparing for this, trying to build that foundation," Forrester said. "Now we have the opportunity. We have the same opportunity as all of the other schools. Hopefully we can take advantage." Game times will announced at a later date.