With two Missouri Valley Conference wins in a row, the University of Evansville men’s basketball team looks for #3 on Saturday in a 2 p.m. game at conference-leading Drake.
Last time out, the Purple Aces were able to grind their way to a 64-55 victory over preseason conference favorite Missouri State. The Aces led wire-to-wire with four players recording double figures in the scoring column. In two 2018 home games, the Purple Aces have never trailed the opposition, earning wins over Bradley and Missouri State. UE’s home games have been tied for just 2:12 in those outings.
Leading the way in the triumph over the Bears was sophomore Dru Smith, who tallied 15 points while going a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line. In four games since making his return from a foot injury, Smith is averaging 13.5 points and 4.25 steals per contest. Smith leads the MVC in steals, assists, 3-point percentage and field goal percentage; he is the only player in the nation to currently lead his conference in those statistics.
Dainius Chatkevicius notched the first double-double of his UE career on Wednesday, scoring 10 points while grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds. He saw the floor for 28 minutes, the second-highest tally in his career. His 5.4 boards per game ranks 15th in the MVC while he is one of the most accurate shooters in the league, sitting at 57.3%.
Another bright spot for Evansville has been the emergence of sophomore K.J. Riley. Averaging 7.7 PPG on the season, Riley has upped that total to 8.8 in MVC games. He has finished with at least six points in each MVC contest while hitting double figures on three occasions. Riley leads the team with 71 free throw makes and 93 attempts; he ranks in the top 93 in the NCAA in both statistics.
Drake sits atop the conference standings with a 4-1 mark through their first five games and are 10-8 overall. Last time out, the Bulldogs dropped their first MVC game, a 77-60 decision at Valparaiso. Four Bulldogs average double figures, paced by Reed Timmer who has recorded 18.7 points per game; he is the leading free throw shooter in the conference at 88.6%. De’Antae McMurray sits at 11.8 PPG while Nick McGlynn and Graham Woodward have 10.8 and 10.3.