by Ed Beach
The Drury men’s basketball program announced their 2019-20 schedule and the Panthers will open their 111th season of competition with an exhibition game on Friday, Nov. 1 at the O’Reilly Family Event Center against Mid-America Christian.
Drury’s regular season starts in Nashville, Tenn. on Friday, Nov. 8 when the Panthers face Lake Superior State in the Trevecca Classic. The Lakers were 15-12 last year and two years ago went 25-8 while advancing to the NCAA-II Midwest Regional semifinals. The Panthers will take on host Trevecca Nazarene the following afternoon on Sat., Nov. 9.
Drury once again hosts the DoubleTree Thanksgiving Classic on Nov. 29 and 30. The Panthers first opponent in the event will be Southern Arkansas, a team that went 19-10 last season. Drury will play Rogers State the following day. The Hillcats were 20-12 in 2018-19. Missouri S&T is also participating in the event and will have the 1 p.m. game on both days.
Just before Christmas, the Panthers will head to the desert for the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic. The four-team tournament has Drury matched up with Rollins on Sat., Dec. 21, then the Panthers will play either Pittsburg State or Montana State-Billings on Sun., Dec. 22.
The Highway 13 Catfight will be a two-round event in 2019-20 as Southwest Baptist moves to the Great Lakes Valley Conference this season. Drury will host the Bearcats in the GLVC opener on Dec. 3 at 7:45 p.m., then travel to Bolivar on Mon., Jan. 20.
Lindenwood also joins the league this season, and the Panthers will host the Lions on Hall of Fame Day on Sat., Jan. 11.
Other highlights on the conference schedule include a Jan. 2 game at defending Midwest Regional champion Southern Indiana. The Panthers also travel to Louisville again to face perennial power Bellarmine on Jan. 25.
Drury will host defending league champion Lewis on Thur., Feb. 6, then will hold their annual Overflow the O’ game on Sat., Feb. 8 against Illinois Springfield. Drury’s Homecoming and Senior Day are set for Sat., Feb. 29 when they take on Rockhurst.
The GLVC tournament returns to Edwardsville, Illinois March 5-8 and the NCAA-II Midwest Regional is March 14-17 at the site of the region’s highest-seeded team. The NCAA-II national quarterfinals and semifinals will be at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana on March 26 and 28 while the national championship game will return to Atlanta, Georgia on Apr. 5 and will be held in conjunction with the Division I Final Four.
Drury head coach Steve Hesser will enter his 16th year leading the program in 2019-20 and is Drury’s all-time leader in career coaching wins. Last season, Hesser passed the legendary A.L. Weiser with his 317th victory at Drury and will start the year with a 323-126 mark with the Panthers.
Drury finished the 2018-19 season 21-12, 13-5 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, and advanced to the NCAA-II tournament for the second year in a row. Drury returns five lettermen from last year’s squad including All-Midwest Region and First Team All-GLVC selection Conley Garrison.
Season tickets for the 2019-20 season are now sale and can be ordered by calling 417-873-6389.