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NCAA First Four Game Notes: Belmont tackles Temple in Opening Round





No. 11 Belmont (26-5) vs. No. 11 Temple (23-9)
Dayton, Ohio – - UD Arena
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
9:10 p.m. ET/8:10 p.m. CT


DAYTON, Ohio – - Belmont University men’s basketball returns to game action Tuesday vs. Temple in the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

Belmont claimed its 10th regular season conference championship in 14 years, fifth in seven years of OVC membership.

The game will be played at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio.

Belmont’s NCAA Division I era career leading scorer – Evan Bradds – grew up in Jamestown, Ohio, minutes from the University of Dayton campus. Bradds scored 1,921 career points and was a two-time OVC Player of the Year and All-America selection. Bradds currently serves a video coordinator on Brad Stevens’ staff with the Boston Celtics.

This marks Belmont’s eighth NCAA Tournament appearance. The previous seven were automatic bids (five Atlantic Sun Conference; two Ohio Valley Conference). This is the first NCAA Tournament at-large bid in Belmont history, and the second in OVC history (1987, 2019).

Belmont head coach Rick Byrd and Temple head coach Fran Dunphy have 68 combined years of coaching experience and 1,384 combined career victories.

Senior All-America candidate Dylan Windler (Indianapolis, Ind.) cemented his place among the most complete players in college basketball. Among national leaders in defensive rebounding and double-doubles, the 6-8 guard/forward is the only player in America averaging at least 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. 28 of Windler’s 73 career double figure scoring games have come this season to date, including eight double-doubles with 30 or more points. Windler averaged 23.0 points and 10.9 rebounds per game in league play on 58 percent shooting. The Indianapolis native ranks among OVC leaders in 10 statistical categories, including third in points per game (21.4) and first in rebounding (10.7) – a category he has led two straight seasons. Windler, whose offensive efficiency rating (127.1) per Ken Pomeroy ranks third nationally behind Duke’s Zion Williamson and Furman’s Matt Rafferty, is a candidate for the Julius Erving Award, Lou Henson Award and Senior CLASS Award.

Senior Kevin McClain (Jennings, Fla.) was also named All-OVC First Team. The 6-3 guard recorded 28 double figure scoring games, including 17 consecutive to date. McClain delivered in the biggest of situations, most notably his game-high 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals – and game-winning shot with 2.3 seconds remaining – in Belmont’s victory at UCLA. He also had 58 points in two wins over Southeast Missouri. The Jennings, Florida native, who twice earned OVC Player of the Week honors, averaged 18.0 points, 4.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game in OVC play.

Freshman Nick Muszynski (Pickerington, Ohio) was named OVC Freshman of the Year, All-OVC First Team and OVC All-Newcomer Team. The 6-11 center tallied 24 double figure scoring games, including a career-high 27 point performance vs. Southeast Missouri (1/31/19). He also recorded 20 points, six assists and three blocked shots at Murray State (1/24/19). Muszynski leads the OVC and ranks among national leaders in field goal percentage (.615) and blocked shots per game (2.2). In addition, Muszynski registered 16 games of three or more assists, and his 80 assists from the post are surpassed only by Wisconsin All-America candidate Ethan Happ. He was named OVC Freshman of the Week a league-high six times.

Freshman Grayson Murphy (Franklin, Tenn.) took over point guard duties for head coach Rick Byrd this season and excelled in Belmont’s offensive system. The 6-2 guard recorded seven games of double figure assists, including a Belmont NCAA Division I era single-game record of 16 assists at UT Martin (2/28/19). Murphy ranks among national leaders in assists (6.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.65). He scored a career-high 20 points in Belmont’s victory over Western Kentucky (12/19/18).

Junior Michael Benkert (Greenwood, Ind.) is a versatile two-way player for Belmont, starting three career games including two in the OVC Tournament. The 6-4 wing made two or more 3-point field goals in the final seven games of the regular season. He went 5-for-5 vs. SIU Edwardsville (2/23/19).

The Bruins rank top 25 nationally in 12 statistical categories, including first in assists per game and total assists, second in scoring offense and assist to turnover ratio, fifth in field goal percentage, and sixth in offensive efficiency and defensive rebounding.