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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, January 21, 8:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: JQH Arena (11,000) -- Springfield, Missouri. Television: None. Home Record: Evansville 7-4, Missouri State 8-1. Away Record: Evansville 2-6, Missouri State 3-4. Neutral Record: Evansville 0-0, Missouri State 1-1. Conference Record: Evansville 2-4, Missouri State 2-4. Series Record: Missouri State leads, 31-27.
GAME NOTES: Two of the five teams in the Missouri Valley Conference displaying a 2-4 record in league play get together at JQH Arena tonight, as the Missouri State Bears entertain the Evansville Purple Aces.
The Bears, who are an impressive 8-1 at home this season, are in the midst of a three-game slide which began with a disappointing overtime loss to sixth- ranked and undefeated Wichita State 10 days ago. The program then bowed to Indiana State and, most recently, Northern Iowa on Saturday in a 94-89 shootout in Cedar Falls.
Also in action over the weekend, the Purple Aces managed to grab their second win in the last three outings with a 53-48 victory versus Loyola-Chicago at home. The victory was just the second in six league bouts for Evansville, which along with Missouri State, is tied with Loyola, Bradley and Southern Illinois for fifth place in the MVC standings.
The Bears lead the all-time series by a count of 31-27, sporting a record of 18-7 in Springfield over the years. The most recent encounter took place in this building last February, with the hosts squeezing out a 62-61 victory. The teams will meet in Indiana for the next installment of this series in two weeks.
Converting all but one of his eight free-throw attempts, D.J. Balentine finished with 18 points for the Purple Aces as they slipped by Loyola on Saturday afternoon. Also scoring in double figures for the hosts in that meeting were Blake Simmons and Duane Gibson with 11 and 10 points, respectively, the former grabbing eight rebounds and the latter handing out five assists as the squad survived with a mere 35.3 percent shooting from the field.
Balentine, the leading scorer in three straight and seven of the last eight outings for the Purple Aces, is responsible for a team-best 22.2 ppg, placing him among the top scorers in the nation. Not only is Balentine, who has converted 120-of-139 at the free-throw line, the top point producer, he is also second on the unit with 80 assists. The program is putting up 71.1 ppg thanks to 40.0 percent accuracy behind the 3-point line.
Ron Mvouika erupted for a game-high 28 points, shooting 10-of-13 from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 beyond the arc, but still the Bears came up short against Northern Iowa at the McLeod Center. Jarmar Gulley tallied 16 points, Tyler McCullough 13 off the bench and Austin Ruder 11 points, the latter connecting on 3-of-4 out on the perimeter as the team hit a combined 12-of-21 from 3-point range in the setback.
Mvouika's offensive outburst was quite unexpected, given that he has been a reserve in all but one of the 16 games in which he has appeared and is currently averaging only 7.2 ppg. However, with Mvouika proving that he is capable of taking on a much larger role on offense, the sting of losing Marcus Marshall to a knee injury might be lessened somewhat. Marshall had been the leading scorer with 14.3 ppg, which means the only active double-digit performer now is Gulley (14.1 ppg).
Losing Marshall is going to be a difficult adjustment for the Bears, but as they showed over the weekend they can still put points on the board, something Evansville has trouble with.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri State 78, Evansville 66
01/21 10:55:59 ET
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