EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE)
In its final game prior to Christmas, the Purple Aces men's basketball team faces preseason Southwestern Athletic Conference favorite Alabama State at the Ford Center on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m.
For tickets, call 812-488-ACES or visit the Ford Center ticket booth on game day.
The University of Evansville had a stellar overtime session against Ohio University, outscoring the Bobcats by a 12-0 score to earn an 81-69 win. D.J. Balentine had his sixth-consecutive 20-point outing as he finished with a game-high 23 points; he also finished with a career-best eight rebounds while notching six assists in one of the best all-around efforts of his career. In the first half, Ohio U. shot 53.3% (16/30) while outscoring the Aces in the paint by a tally of 18-8; over the remainder of the game, Evansville held the Bobcats to 13-of-40 shooting (32.5%) while outscoring them in the paint by a 30-16 margin.
Egidijus Mockevicius has put together two excellent games in a row en route to his fifth and sixth double-doubles of the season. In the games versus Murray State and Ohio, Mockevicius averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds while blocking 4.5 shots per game. Over the last 105 minutes of action, Mockevicius has been on the floor for 85 of those.
A season-high 14 points on 6-10 shooting saw sophomore Blake Simmons improve his season shooting to 54.4%, which is in the top ten in the Valley. Simmons has notched four double figure scoring games this season while checking in at a solid 42.1% from outside. While he missed his first free throw of the season against the Bobcats, he is still 8/9 on the season. It is a solid improvement over last season where he connected on 67 out of 91 attempts (73.6%).
Six 20-point games in a row has seen D.J. Balentine vault to 10th in the NCAA in scoring at 21.8 points per game. Balentine's streak is something the program has not seen in 25 years; the last UE player to reach 20 or more points in six consecutive games was Scott Haffner, who did so from Feb. 12, 1989 through the 27th in a stretch that also included his program record of 65 points versus Dayton. Marty Simmons was the last player to reel off seven such games in a row; Simmons did so in the final seven games of his career in 1988, averaging an unbelievable 29.9 points per game over that stretch.
With their backs against the wall, the Purple Aces had a stellar performance in overtime, forcing the Bobcats to miss all nine shots while finishing the 5-minute period outscoring OU 12-0. In doing so, UE became the only team in the Missouri Valley Conference to shut out a non-conference opponents in overtime in the last 20 years. The only other team to earn an OT shutout was Drake, who beat Bradley in OT in 2004 by a final of 62-57; Drake outscored Bradley 5-0 in the extra period.
The top team in the Southwestern Athletics Conference - Alabama State - makes the trek to the Ford Center on Sunday with a record of 3-4. Last season, the Hornets tied for second in the SWAC and advanced to play in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament where they squared off against Sam Houston State in the firsts round. ASU returns all five starts from that team, including three preseason all-conference players. Guard Jamel Waters and forwards Bobby Brown and Luther Page were all named to the list. Waters leads the Hornets with 12.9 points per game while DeMarcus Robinson is just behind with 12.6. As a team, the Hornets have outrebounded the opposition by 7.7 per game.
UE and Alabama State have met on the hardwood three times, with the Aces coming out on top all three times. All three meetings have taken place in Evansville since the 2009-10 season. This is the third meeting in four years between the squads.