Battle of the Boulevard on Feb. 3 features Beale Street Flippers from Memphis
By Janel Shoun on 1/19/2012
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Lipscomb and Belmont. Two schools located less than three miles apart on Belmont Boulevard. Two schools that share a special basketball bond. Since Dec. 11, 1953, these two schools have faced off 129 times.
Lipscomb and Belmont are two of the most storied teams in college basketball history. Both were NAIA powerhouses. And both leaped to NCAA Division One in the late 1990's. Today they face each other at least twice a year as Atlantic Sun Conference foes.
The game, coined "The Battle of the Boulevard," is the talk of Nashville and college basketball faithful across the country.
In the 1980's the rivalry grew as fierce as ever. The teams were helmed by legendary coaches: Lipscomb's Don Meyer and Belmont's Rick Byrd. The rosters were decorated with NAIA legends. Lipscomb's Darren Henrie, Philip Hutcheson, Jerry Meyer, and John Pierce faced off against Belmont's Joe Behling, Scott Corley, Scott Speedy, and Greg Thurman.
On Feb. 17, 1990, largest Battle of the Boulevard was played at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym. Over 16,000 fans packed the gym to watch Lipscomb defeat Belmont 124-107 in the largest-attended basketball game in NAIA history.
Lipscomb dominated a stretch of 12 years winning 32 of 37 games between 1980 and 1992.
Following the 1996 season, the Battle was suspended for seven seasons while both schools transitioned to the NCAA.
On Jan. 27, 2004, the Battle of the Boulevard was reborn in front of 4,176 fans in Lipscomb's Allen Arena. It took an extra period, but Belmont edged Lipscomb 66-64 to start a fierce stretch of competition between the two teams.
Five of the first ten meetings in the NCAA-era required overtime, including three of the five meetings in Allen Arena.
Lipscomb's most bittersweet "Battle of the Boulevard" came not in Nashville, Tenn., but rather in Johnson City, Tenn. Lipscomb and Belmont faced off for the 2006 Atlantic Sun Championship in Johnson City, Tenn., in front of a nationally televised audience. The winner would have a ticket the "Big Dance" - the NCAA Tournament.
Belmont and Lipscomb battled throughout the first forty minutes to a tie. But after an extra five, Belmont had topped the Bisons 74-69. As a consolation, Lipscomb received a bid to the NIT and a trip to UTEP for its first NCAA postseason bid.
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