Indiana State(17-13) vs. Evansville (18-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 8, 3:35 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scottrade Center (20,948) -- St. Louis, Missouri. Television: MVC Network. Home Record: Indiana State 11-3, Evansville 14-3. Away Record: Indiana State 4-9, Evansville 4-10. Neutral Record: Indiana State 2-1, Evansville 0-0. Conference Record: Indiana State 9-9, Evansville 10-8. Series Record: Indiana State leads, 81-77.
GAME NOTES: Just three wins away from an NCAA Tournament berth, the No. 4- seeded Evansville Purple Aces and fifth-seeded Indiana State Sycamores will battle for a spot in the Missouri Valley Conference semifinals.
When Indiana State hosted the first meeting between these teams, Indiana State took down Evansville 72-62. The Sycamores had won four straight in the all- time series before the regular season finale when the Purple Aces coasted to an 84-68 decision. Indiana State now holds an 83-75 all-time series lead.
The Sycamores were once a dark horse to win the MVC crown as they appeared to be one of the top teams in the league in early February. Indiana State notched wins over Ole Miss, Miami-Florida, Northern Iowa, Wichita State and Creighton before dropping five of the last six decisions. The team is among the bottom half of squads on offense, scoring 67.1 points per game on 43.7 percent shooting.
Evansville's win over the Sycamores this past Saturday marked their fourth in a row. The Purple Aces' biggest accomplishment of the season was their sweep of Wichita State. Through its first 23 games in the MVC Tournament, Evansville is 5-18, but has won a game each season. The squad is led by all-conference forward Colt Ryan and all-defensive team member Troy Taylor.
The winner of this matchup advances to take on the victor of the Creighton/Drake game in the next round.
The Sycamores are led by one of the most versatile guards in the nation in Jake Odum. On top of shooting 48.8 percent from the field for 14.4 ppg, Odum also deals out 4.7 apg, hauls in 4.5 rpg and records 1.5 spg. With Manny Arop (12.6 ppg) serving an indefinite suspension, R.J. Mahurin (10.5 ppg) will act as the club's second scoring option. Odom did his part in the regular-season finale, registering 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. However, Evansville scored 38 points off the bench and forced 14 turnovers to breeze past ISU, which trailed from wire-to-wire.
Ryan finished his career on fire, averaging 30 points in his last week of regular-season play along with posting 25.6 PPG since Feb. 1, to pace the conference. With 2,173 career points to his name, Ryan is just 64 points away from breaking Evansville's all-time school record. Ned Cox adds 11.1 ppg for EU, which ranks fifth in the MVC in both scoring offense (68.6 ppg) and scoring defense (65.0 ppg). Ryan scored 31 points for the Purple Aces in their regular-season finale, while the team also got 12 points from Ryan Sawvell. Evansville shot 54.5 percent from the floor in the win.
Indiana State has been playing like a shadow of the squad that once took down Miami-Florida. Evansville's win on Saturday improved it to 14-3 at home, but it is considerably less effective in foreign arenas. The Sycamores could bounce back in this one if Odum continues to play at a high level and his squad figures out a way to cool off Ryan.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Indiana State 70, Evansville 67
03/08 10:34:31 ET