Valparaiso (2-2) at Evansville (3-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 20, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Center (10,000) -- Evansville, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: Valparaiso 2-0, Evansville 2-0. Away Record: Valparaiso 0-2, Evansville 1-0. Neutral Record: Valparaiso 0-0, Evansville 0-0. Conference Record: Valparaiso 0-0, Evansville 0-0. Series Record: Evansville leads, 65-17.
GAMES NOTES: The Evansville Purple Aces attempt to keep their season-opening win streak alive when they bring in the Valparaiso Crusaders for a non- conference duel at the Ford Center.
While Evansville is trying to keep a streak going, Valparaiso is trying to put one to an end. With a 76-72 loss to Ohio last time out the Crusaders have now lost back-to-back games, both on the road. The recent snag has the Crusaders back at .500 as they were able to secure victories in their first two games at home.
Riding the offensive surge of D.J. Balentine, the Purple Aces have earned three wins in as many game to kick off the campaign. The most recent victory came in the first part of a three-game homestand that continues with Valparaiso. In that contest the Purple Aces shot by Mercer, 89-76.
The Purple Aces have dominated the all-time series. Evansville has won 65 of a total 82 meetings, but Valparaiso earned a 75-67 victory in the last meeting during the 2007 season.
The Crusaders rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to make things interesting against Ohio, but in the end fell short. The Crusaders shot at just a 37 percent clip in the contest and were guilty of 19 turnovers, while only forcing nine miscues from the Bobcats.
During their short losing streak the Crusaders have not been able to meet the same type of offensive success they have been posting overall. They are still shooting 46.3 percent from the field but only averaging 62 points per game during the last two games. LaVonte Dority (15.5 ppg) doesn't provide much beyond his team-lead in scoring as he is averaging fewer than two rebounds and assists per game. Dority finished with 20 points against Ohio for his third- straight game in double figures and second game of 20 points this year. Jordan Coleman (14.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Alec Peters (11.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg) have been solid on the glass, while also scoring. Peters had 16 points and 13 rebounds against Ohio for his first double-double of the season.
Led by 29 points from Balentine and an additional 23 from Duane Gibson, the Purple Aces were easily able to down Mercer. Evansville connected on 54 percent of its field goal tries, while owning a 36-28 advantage on the boards.
Thanks in large part to Balentine's efforts, the Purple Aces have been posting some impressive numbers on offense. They are averaging 86.7 points and 18.3 assists per game, while netting 54.6 percent of their shots from the floor. They rank among the top 20 in the country in assists and field-goal percentage. Balentine (29.0 ppg, 4.3 apg) has taken to the go-to scorer's role left by the departure of Colt Ryan. Balentine has scored 29 points in each game this season and has also found a way to keep teammates involved. Gibson (14.3 ppg,6.3 rpg, 4.7 apg) is also scoring and passing at a high rate. Gibson has been selective with his shot, which has helped him connect on 64.7 percent of his attempts from the field. Adam Wing (12.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg) is the third member of the team scoring in double figures as well as one of the few rebounding threats.
With the pace at which Balentine is scoring, the weakness the Purple Aces have up front has yet to be exposed. It will be eventually, but Wednesday is not that time.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Evansville 80, Valparaiso 70
11/20 10:36:57 ET