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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 15, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Center (10,000) -- Evansville, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: Buffalo 0-1, Evansville 0-0. Away Record: Buffalo 0-1, Evansville 0-1. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-0, Evansville 0-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 0-0, Evansville 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 2-2.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams go in search of their first win of the season on Thursday night, as the Evansville Purple Aces play host to the Buffalo Bulls as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Buffalo suffered a tough loss on its home floor against Princeton in its season opener, falling 57-53, and it followed that up with a much more difficult task on the road against Florida State, losing 95-68. The Bulls are definitely feeling the sting from the slow start, as they won back-to-back games to open last season en route to a 20-win campaign. They haven't started 0-3 since the 2003-2004 season.
Evansville also faced a difficult early-season task by having to go on the road to face No. 22 Notre Dame. While it put up a valiant effort against one of the nation's top teams, the team ultimately fell, 58-49. The Purple Aces are kicking off a three-game home stand against the Bulls.
These two teams have split four games in the all-time series, with Evansville winning the most recent clash on Nov. 22, 2008 at home, 64-49.
The good news for Buffalo is that after a slow shooting night in its opener, it was able to improve to 50 percent from the field (27-of-54) against Florida State. The bad news, however, is it had no answer for the Seminoles at the defensive end of the court, allowing them to shoot nearly 60 percent from the floor, including 10-of-18 from three-point range. Javon McCrea connected on 8- of-12 field goal attempts for 17 points. The 6-foot-7 forward was one of the best big men in the Mid-American Conference last year (14.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg), and he is off to a great start through two games with an average of 19.5 ppg. Also scoring 17 points was Tony Watson, who drained five three-pointers as the team's sixth man. Xavier Ford tallied 16 points, and Jarod Oldham added seven points and six assists. Buffalo's Achilles' heel thus far has been its inability to take care of the basketball, as it has committed 43 turnovers, losing the takeaway battle by an average of eight per game.
Evansville's effort at the defensive end of the floor against Notre Dame kept it in the game, as it held the Fighting Irish to 40 percent field goal efficiency, but its offensive effort certainly didn't help matters. The Aces scored just 19 baskets on 61 attempts (.331), which included a woeful 5-of-21 effort from beyond the arc. Colt Ryan had a rather pedestrian day with 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field. Ryan was one of the nation's top scorers last season (20.5 ppg) and expectations are high for the senior, who was named to the Preseason All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team. Ryan Sawvell recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards. If you take away the production from Ryan and Sawvell, the rest of the EU roster combined for just 24 points on 9-of-37 shooting, although other than its conference dates with Creighton, the Notre Dame matchup appears to be the team's toughest test of the regular season.
For Buffalo, McCrea seems to have an advantage as a physical forward going up against a small Evansville lineup, but on the other hand the Bulls showed against FSU that they have difficulty slowing down potent scorers, meaning Ryan could be in for a big night as well. Give the advantage to the Aces, as even in a mediocre season a year ago they managed to win 11 games on their home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Evansville 66, Buffalo 60
11/15 20:03:49 ET
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