Belmont Wins Don Meyer Classic, 79-64
The atmosphere was nothing like a meaningless exhibition game. ESPNU was in the house and the fans came in droves. Former legendary Lipscomb basketball coach Don Meyer was honored and inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame at halftime.
But it was business as usual for the Belmont Bruins, who substituted frequently and rolled to a 79-64 win over Northern State.
The first half got off to a rocky start as the Bruins quickly found themselves trailing 10-7. But Belmont outscored the Wolves 34-16 over the last 13 minutes of the half to go into the break up 41-26.
In the second half, the Bruins stayed consistent while Northern State scrapped for points. Belmont led by as much as 18, before settling at the final 15-point margin.
Nearly the entire Belmont roster played substantial minutes—allowing the coaches to evaluate players before the true season-opener next week against the University of Tennessee.
Brandon Baker—who averaged two points per game last season—led all scorers with 14 points.
“Brandon has played great in all our practice sessions. He’s a guy who helps us everywhere,” Belmont head coach Byrd said. Baker shot 3-of-4 from three point range and also recorded two steals and two rebounds.
During halftime, Meyer was presented with his induction into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Byrd nominated Meyer for the honor.
When asked to speak, Meyer deflected attention away from his own achievement as having the most wins of any other person to coach NCAA mens basketball.
““The only reason I’ve got a chance to be there is the great players,” Meyer said. “They got me here.”
Meyer is the subject of a new book release by ESPN broadcaster and former Nashville Banner writer Buster Olney. While coaching at Northern State, Meyer got in a devastating accident in which he lost part of his left leg. While operating on him, a surgeon discovered that Meyer had cancer. He never missed coaching a game until this season.
After the game, Meyer stared at a final box score while the media asked him questions. When Byrd entered the room, the press conference became a coaching clinic.
Meyer and Byrd broke down the X’s and O’s while folks outside were waiting for Olney and Meyer to sign copies of the new book.
When you’ve got that post player running hard down the middle of the floor, that draws in the defense and opens up a lot of chances for the three, Byrd said, facing Meyer.
Yes, absolutely. But with all that depth, it’ll be more difficult for you guys to run plays, Meyer countered. If you all can keep that on-the-ball defensive pressure on like you did after the first three or four minutes, you all should be alright.
Ironically, the final score tonight mirrored the exact score in the University of Indianapolis’ exhibition over UT—the Bruins’ next opponent.
“We need to go over there and think we can win,” Byrd said. “Hoping you’re going to win is not going to get it done.”