NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's basketball faces Butler Sunday to conclude non-conference play. The Bruins defeated Fairfield, 73-61, Dec. 20 for their fourth true road win of the season. Junior Craig Bradshaw (Ridgetop, Tenn.) led balanced scoring with 15 points.
Belmont head coach Rick Byrd is good friends with former Butler and current Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. The game was first agreed upon by Byrd and Stevens, and was originally scheduled for December of 2013. But the game was moved to December of 2014 due to scheduling conflicts. Ironically, Stevens headlined an Integrity in Sport symposium at Belmont University mere weeks before accepting the Celtics' job.
Belmont is quite familiar with Butler interim head coach Chris Holtmann, dating back to his days as an assistant coach at Gardner-Webb. The Bruins and Runnin' Bulldogs met 13 times in Atlantic Sun Conference play from 2002-2008.
Former Belmont All-American Ian Clark and former Butler All-American Gordon Hayward are teammates on the Utah Jazz.
Detroit Pistons Video Coordinator T.J. Saint spent three years as a staff member at Butler after spending two and a half years as an undergraduate student assistant at Belmont.
Belmont has a long tradition of recruiting the state of Indiana. Three current Bruins (Spencer Turner, Jeff Laidig, Mack Mercer) hail from the Hoosier State, with all three Class of 2015 signees - Seth Adelsperger of Peru, Michael Benkert of Greenwood, and Dylan Windler of Indianapolis - coming from the state of Indiana. Other notable Indiana natives who played at Belmont include: Jordan Campbell (Indianapolis/North Central), Adam Mark (Bremen), Steve Drabyn (La Porte), and Nick Otis (La Porte).
This marks the fourth meeting between Belmont and Butler. The Bruins and Bulldogs played one game each during pre-conference action in the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seasons. Byrd was able to cobble together the series with then-Butler head coach and current Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier. Belmont was an NCAA Division I independent at that time, joining the Atlantic Sun Conference in the fall of 2001. Butler claimed two decisive home victories, with Belmont taking a memorable 60-58 victory Nov. 23, 1998 at venerable Striplin Gym.
Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 and the Fox Sports Go app.
The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network. In-game updates will be available on Twitter @BelmontMBB.