Evansville (5-2) at Murray State (2-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 4, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: CFSB Center (8,600) -- Murray, Kentucky. Television: None. Home Record: Evansville 4-0, MSU 2-1. Away Record: Evansville 1-2, MSU 0-4. Neutral Record: Evansville 0-0, MSU 0-0. Conference Record: Evansville 0-0, MSU 0-0. Series Record: Murray State leads, 23-10.
GAME NOTES: Separated by slightly more than 130 miles, the Evansville Purple Aces and the Murray State Racers find themselves getting together again tonight at the CFSB Center in Kentucky.
Murray State is happy to be home after losing all four road tests to this point. The team was last in action against the Gaels of Saint Mary's on Saturday and came away with an 89-64 setback. The loss was the third in a row overall for a Racers team that is tipping off a three-game homestand tonight.
Also dealing with a current losing streak is Evansville, the team having lost to Indiana (77-46) and Ohio (81-59) both on the road last week. However, the Purple Aces did start off the 2013-14 campaign strong with five consecutive wins, but many came against sub par competition.
In terms of the all-time series, MSU is ahead by a count of 23-10, thanks to four straight victories. The latest win for the Racers was an 82-70 decision last season on the road at the Ford Center.
Against the Bobcats in Athens on Saturday afternoon, Evansville shot just 37.7 percent from the field and 3-of-14 behind the 3-point line in the 22-point road loss. Egidiju Mockevicius came within a single rebound of producing a double-double as he tallied 19 points, while D.J. Balentine pitched in with 15 points as the only other player on the team to have knocked down more than just a pair of field goals.
Balentine, a 51.5 percent shooter from the field overall who is also an even 50 percent beyond the arc (17-of-34), leads the team in scoring rather convincingly with 25.3 ppg, one of the highest averages in the country. He has been superb at the free-throw line as well with 58-of-63 (.921) shooting for a team that is averaging more than 22 points at the charity stripe per game.
The Racers went up against one of the most disciplined programs in the country the last time out and discovered first hand what makes SMC such a tough matchup. The Gaels turned the ball over just nine times, shot 53.6 percent from the field versus the MSU defense and knocked down 13-of-27 beyond the arc in the fray. Murray State was paced by Jarvis Williams with his 16 points and nine rebounds, followed by Jeffery Moss with 14 points, Cameron Payne 13 and Jonathan Fairell with 10 points before fouling out.
Shooting 54.4 percent from the floor and focusing all of his efforts on the inside, Williams is not only scoring 14.1 ppg to pace the Racers, he is also tops on the glass with 10.4 rpg as well. Payne (13.4 ppg) has made good on just 34.7 percent of his field goal chances, but it is imperative for him to remain on the floor because he has handed out 38 assists, nearly half the unit's 81 dishes through seven games.
Murray State might be playing better at home these days, but that still doesn't equate to an automatic win for the Racers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Evansville 72, Murray State 67
12/04 10:31:39 ET