EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Purple Aces junior Ryan Taylor looks for his 5th 20-point game in a row when the University of Evansville men's basketball team welcomes Valparaiso to the Ford Center on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game.
Evansville had its 3-game win streak snapped on Saturday with a 75-71 loss at Illinois State. The Redbirds opened up an early double digit lead, but the Aces rallied back to take the lead early in the second half. Taylor set his season mark with 32 points in the contest while Dainius Chatkevicius posted a career-high of 14 rebounds.
Averaging 28.5 points per game in contests against UNI and Illinois State, Ryan Taylor pushed his season average to a league-best 21.1 PPG on his way to being named the Co-MVC Player of the Week. He started off the week with 25 points against UNI before setting his season mark with 32 at Illinois State. Taylor drained eight 3-pointers against the Redbirds, the most since Colt Ryan had eight triples against Bradley in 2012. The effort marked the fourth 20-point game in a row for Taylor, who has now reached that total in 13 games this season.
Senior Duane Gibson has missed ten games this season due to his knee, but made his return to the floor on Saturday at Illinois State. Gibson played 15 minutes while posting four points, two rebounds and five assists. In an overtime game where every point counted, Gibson scored a season-high of 17 points in the win over Austin Peay on Dec. 16.
Evansville leads the series against Valparaiso by a 67-17 margin. UE has won 20 consecutive home games over the Crusaders; their last win in Evansville came on Feb. 1, 1969 (101-95 score). UE defeated the Crusaders by a final of 75-65 two weeks ago on the road.
Valparaiso enters Wednesday's game with an overall 12-13 record while posting a 3-9 record in its first trip through the Valley. The Crusaders have dropped six of their last seven games with the win coming against Indiana State on January 31. Tevonn Walker is one of two active Crusaders in double figures, notching 15.3 PPG; he led the squad with 16 points last time out at SIU. Bakari Evelyn checks in at 12.1 points per contest.