Evansville (5-0) at Indiana (5-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 26, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Assembly Hall (17,472) -- Bloomington, Indiana. Television: BTN. Home Record: Evansville 4-0, Indiana 4-0. Away Record: Evansville 1-0, Indiana 0-0. Neutral Record: Evansville 0-0, Indiana 1-1. Conference Record: Evansville 0-0, Indiana 0-0. Series Record: Indiana leads, 8-0.
GAME NOTES: Coming off a one-point loss to Connecticut in the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic in New York City, the Indiana Hoosiers return home to host the Evansville Purple Aces on Tuesday evening.
Tom Crean's Hoosiers opened the 2013-14 season with five straight wins, including an impressive 102-84 win over Washington in the semifinals of the 2k Sports Classic. However, any momentum gained to the strong start was halted a day later, as Indiana got into a defensive struggle with UConn and came out on the losing end in the waning moments of the game.
Meanwhile, seventh-year head coach Marty Simmons and the Purple Aces have yet to taste defeat on the year, winning all five of their games to date, four of which came at home. Last weekend, Evansville made it look easy against Anderson University in a 91-68 rout.
Indiana has won all eight previous meetings in this series, and won the last meeting in Evansville in 2011, 94-73.
Perhaps it is the level of competition, but the Purple Aces are blowing opponents away with lethal efficiency at the offensive end. Evansville enters this contest averaging 90.2 ppg and doing so on .566 shooting, a number bolstered by a ridiculous .527 from 3-point range. D.J. Balentine is one of the nation's most explosive scorers over the first month of the season, posting a whopping 29.6 ppg thanks in large part to his 65.2 percent accuracy from behind the arc (15-of-23). While Balentine is the centerpiece of the Evansville attack, the team does have complementary scorers in Adam Wing (13.6 ppg), Blake Simmons (11.8 ppg) and Duane Gibson (11.0 ppg).
Balentine was right on his season average in the lopsided win over Anderson, posting 29 points, on 10-of-11 shooting from the field and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Simmons and Ryan Sawvell added 15 points each, while WIng finished with 12. Evansville found its groove early and never relented, shooting .577 overall, .667 from behind the arc (6-of-9) and 25-of-30 from the charity stripe.
Indiana is shooting the ball as well as Evansville is, but not many teams are. However, the Hoosiers have certainly had their share of success at the offensive end this season, averaging 88.0 ppg on .472 shooting. In addition, IU has really asserted itself on the glass, boasting of a +16.3 rebounding margin. It all starts with electrifying guard Kevin (Yogi) Ferrell, who can score at will (19.5 ppg), while finding time to get others involved the flow of the game (4.2 apg). Noah Vonleh (12.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg) provides the perfect balance with his interior dominance. Will Sheehey (12.0 ppg) and Troy Williams (10.7 ppg) give the team scoring depth.
The Hoosiers found themselves in a defensive struggle with UConn last week and after bouncing back from a six-point halftime deficit, Indiana and UConn traded baskets down the stretch until the Huskies prevailed by the narrowest of margins. Indiana received 19 points from Ferrell in the loss, while Sheehey finished with 12, but the Hoosiers struggled to 40.8-percent performance from the floor, including just 3-of-12 from long range.
The Purple Aces are taking a huge step up in competition and although they have shot the ball extremely well, buckets will be harder to come by in Bloomington. Balentine will get his points, but Indiana's superior depth and interior game will win out in the end.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Indiana 81, Evansville 71
11/26 10:35:24 ET