Clarksville, Ark.-The University of the Ozarks men's basketball team will enter the American Southwest Conference championship tournament as the No. 3 seed out of the ASC East division and will play McMurry University on February 24 at 2:00 p.m. in Brownwood, Texas.
Ozarks, who had clinched a spot in the eight-team tournament two weeks ago, is in post-season play for the second straight season and the third time in the past five years under head coach Matt O’Connor. The Eagles come into the tournament with a 14-11 overall record and a 14-8 league mark. “It’s exciting to be in the tournament,” said O’Connor. “It’s where we want to be. But it was a tough weekend for us. It is always difficult to deal with tragedies. I think it is important for us to put everything in perspective.” O’Connor believes his veteran team, led by five seniors who have played significant roles, is a plus going into the tournament. “I hope that is a real asset,” said O’Connor. “Those guys have seen a lot. This has been a tough year from the standpoint of dealing with a lot of adversities. I hope those tough times have made us stronger and their experience will be a plus for us in the tournament.” The Eagles will take on an Indian squad that defeated Ozarks 110-80 on January 7 in Abilene. McMurry (17-8, 16-6) comes into the game as the No. 2 seed out of the West division. “McMurry was a real challenge for us last time we played them,” said O’Connor. “They play with great energy and intensity at home. You’ve got to give them credit. Hopefully we will play really well and it will work out for us. We had a goal in August when school started to not only make the conference tournament, but also to give ourselves a chance to win the tournament.” The ASC Championship tournament will be held at Howard Payne University, the winner of the ASC West division, on February 24-26. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA III tournament.