Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Eagles Look to Stand Tall ; Big Men to Team Up as USI Tries to End Slide

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Eagles Look to Stand Tall ; Big Men to Team Up as USI Tries to End Slide

Article excerpt

It's as if Rodney Watson looked at Chuck Jones one day and began to wonder. What if the University of Southern Indiana men's basketball coach took the plunge and put the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Jones on the floor with his leading scorer and rebounder, 6-8, 249- pound Aaron Nelson? What he got may be a nightmare in progress for USI's opponents.

They've only played together at the same time in one game, the 82-71 loss at Wisconsin-Parkside last Saturday. But Watson liked what he saw.

Jones scored eight points, going 4-for-5 from the field, in 19 minutes while also grabbing three rebounds, two of them off the offensive glass.

Meanwhile, Nelson tied his career high for points, with 31, while pulling down 10 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the season.

Watson was first thinking defense, imagining Jones guarding down low while Nelson, who is quicker, guarding high.

"But the big thing is, how is the other team going to guard them?" said the coach.

Expect to see the 16thranked Screaming Eagles' biggest bigs on the floor simultaneously again Thursday night when USI (14-3, 6-3 Great Lakes Valley Conference) will try to end a two-game losing streak when it hosts the University of Illinois Springfield (6-11, 2-7) at the Physical Activities Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30.

A major reason for the adjustment has been the improved play of Jones.

The Madisonville, Ky., native has averaged 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds over the past three games, well above his season averages of 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds. He's also gone 9-for-14 from the field, a 64.2 percent average, which exceeds his season average of 57.4 percent.

"It just comes with experience," said Jones. "I've learned how to play off the other guys."

He usually replaces Nelson when Nelson needs a rest or gets into foul trouble. But the advantage of being on the floor at the same as Nelson isn't lost on Jones.

"It takes pressure off him and opens up the floor for both of us," said Jones. …

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