UMSL senior Troy Long is one of several reasons the men's basketball team is in the midst of a historic run that includes a nine-game win streak, 10-3 start to the season and a perfect 5-0 record in GLVC play.

UPDATE (Jan. 16): The men’s basketball team pushed its winning streak to 10 games with a victory over Saint Joseph’s College (Rensselaer, Ind.) Thursday. But the streak ended Saturday when a three pointer netted with six seconds to play gave the University of Indianapolis the final edge in a close game. The University of Missouri–St. Louis is now 11-4 overall and 6-1 in Great Lakes Valley Conference play. Follow the men’s basketball team at as the UMSL Tritons prepare to start a new winning streak Thursday against William Jewell College (Liberty, Mo.).

After a tepid 1-3 start to the season, the University of Missouri–St. Louis men’s basketball team is red hot.

The UMSL Tritons haven’t lost a game since the day after Thanksgiving, pushing the team’s record to 10-3. That represents the program’s best record through 13 since the 10-3 start by the 1990-91 team. The Tritons’ nine consecutive victories are second only to the school-best 13 straight wins reeled off by the 1971-72 team.

Here’s one more: No UMSL men’s basketball team has ever gone undefeated in its first five Great Lakes Valley Conferences games. Until this year.

To paraphrase a KSDK (Channel 5) news story on UMSL’s success, this is a historic season in the making for the program. Several factors have contributed to the Tritons’ history-making run. Here’s a look at four:

1. Newcomers make an impact. When UMSL puts points on the board, chances are it comes from its new scoring power trio of senior Troy Long (16.9 points per game), junior Joshua McCoy (13.5 ppg) and junior Charlie Woods (10.3 ppg) – all first-year Tritons that transferred from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (Long) and Cleveland State University (McCoy and Woods).

2. The Long factor. Long has been dominant in GLVC contests averaging 23.4 points per game (the league lead) and draining 20 three-pointers.

3. Freshman orientation. If freshmen Jack Connors, Neil Branham and Aareon Smith are any indication, the future of the program is in good hands. Connors has been solid off the bench averaging 10.3 points per game over the last four, and he’s a perfect 12 for 12 for the season at the free throw line. Branham has started the last four games and netted a career-best 14 points in the Tritons Dec. 19 win over Culver-Stockton College (Canton, Mo.). Smith makes the most of his time on court averaging 4.2 ppg despite playing 10.6 minutes per game. He’s also shooting a team-leading 61.3 percent from the field.

4. Head coach Steve Tappmeyer. KSDK reporter and UMSL alumnus Frank Cusumano said it best, “You combine that with a coach who took Northwest Missouri State (University) to 10 NCAA tourneys, and you may have something special in March, like another tournament bid.” In the two seasons under Tappmeyer’s leadership, the Tritons are 26-14 and playing its best ball since the 1990-91 season.

The men’s basketball team will try to push its winning streak to 10 straight in just a few hours when they take on GLVC rival Saint Joseph’s College at Rensselaer, Ind. The tip-off time is set at 7:30 p.m.

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz