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Evansville Familiar Grounds for Defending Champs Drury Panthers

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The defending champions, the Drury Panthers, are back in Evansville.
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The defending champions, the Drury Panthers, are back in Evansville.

"I mean obviously we have played in here before and our conference tournament has been here the last two years,” says Coach Steve Hesser. “As I told someone else, we know the streets and how to get around Evansville as we come here every year for conference play."

But unlike the conference tournament, they had to earn their trip back to the Ford Center for their second straight Elite Eight appearance.

"So we came here last year and everybody didn't think we were going to be back,” says Panthers guard Lonnie Boga. “So it was a lot of motivation for us to get back and work hard but stay humble at the same time. But it is a great honor to be here though."

Drury is 4-1 all time at the Ford Center, but its one-loss came just a few weeks ago.

"I forgot about that,” laughs Hesser. “That was a good thing for us at that time. We got to go back to Springfield and our guys were a lot more attentive. Their ears were wide open."

Their 75-52 loss to Southern Indiana in the conference tournament got the Panthers back on track.

"Yeah that loss helped us a lot,” says Ian Carter, the Panthers forward. “I think we just kind of were being fat-cats and got used to winning. Sometimes you need a loss like that and it was at the perfect time to where we didn't have to end our season right there. I mean a lot of teams lost there and had to end their season. We got to go back and keep practicing and build and start listening and come close together as a team."

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