EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE)
For the first time in the 2015 calendar year, the University of Evansville basketball team treks to the road, heading up Route 41 to take on Indiana State on Sunday afternoon at the Hulman Center.
Set for a 12:30 p.m. CT tip, the game will be televised live on ESPN3. You can also tune in on 91.5 WUEV. With Thursday's win over #23 UNI, the Aces are looking for just their third 2-0 start to Missouri Valley Conference play since the 2000-01 season.
In the first half against #23 UNI, the Purple Aces were down by as many as 16 points; at the break, UE cut the gap to ten before rallying back to a 52-49 victory. It marked the 5th win for the program in its last 14 games versus a ranked team. D.J. Balentine led the Aces with 17 points while Egidijus Mockevicius registered his ninth double-double of the season. UE improved to 3-2 against ranked opponents at the Ford Center.
Evansville shot just 32.7% in its victory over UNI, the lowest shooting effort in its first 61 games at the Ford Center. Defense and rebounding were key to the victory as the Aces held UNI to a season-low 49 points. The Panthers shot 54.2% in the first half before the Aces defense clamped down, holding them to 31.6% in the latter period. Prior to the January 1 contest, UE lost seven games in a row when shooting under 33%; the last win when doing so was on Feb. 13, 2008 as the Aces downed Creighton by a 60-56 final while hitting 19 out of 45 attempts
UNI entered Thursday's MVC opener ranked 23rd in the latest polls. UE improved 3-2 versus ranked opponents at the Ford Center and 16-48 overall against teams in the polls. The win helped UE improve to 5-9 in its last 14 contests against a ranked squad.
Indiana State began MVC action with a strong road win at Illinois State, taking down the Redbirds by a final of 63-61. Tre Bennett, who averaged 7.6 PPG this season, notched 15 in the victory in Normal. Khristian Smith tops the Sycamores in scoring (12.5 points), rebounding (5.5 per game), free throw % (80.3%) and steals (15). Devonte Brown is just behind Bennett with 12 points per game while Brenton Scott checks in at 10.8. ISU enters Sunday's game with a 5-8 record; after opening the season at 3-1, Indiana State has lost seven out of nine games.
Indiana State owns an 87-75 advantage in the series against Evansville. The Sycamores have had the dominant hand over the last three years, winning seven of the last eight matchups. The Aces are 4-11 in their last 15 trips to the Hulman Center and have lost their last three games in Terre Haute.
Next week, the Aces return home for a Jan. 7 game against Loyola. The Ramblers have gotten off to a stellar 11-2 start this season.