Western Illinois (14-11) at Evansville (13-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday February 18th, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Center (10,000) -- Evansville, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: WIU 9-4, UE 9-6. Away Record: WIU 5-7, UE 4-7. Neutral Record: WIU 0-0, UE 0-0. Conference Record: WIU 8-8, UE 8-8. Series Record: Evansville leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Western Illinois Leathernecks of the Summit League head to the Ford Center to tangle with the Missouri Valley Conference's Evansville Purple Aces in a BracketBuster battle.
This will be just the third encounter between WIU and the Purple Aces. Evansville is 2-0 against the Leathernecks after sweeping a home-and-home series in 2004 and 2005.
WIU snapped a three-game losing streak with a 47-42 victory over UMKC on Wednesday. The Leathernecks frustrated UMKC in the contest as they set a season-low in allowed points (42) by limiting it to 39.5 percent shooting from the floor in the contest. Head coach Jim Moninari's squad is now 14-11 overall with three games remaining after tonight. WIU has the lowest scoring offense in the Summit League, with an average of 62.4 ppg, however its scoring defense is the best in the conference with an allowed average of only 59.6 ppg.
Senior guard Ceola Clark III is pacing WIU with 14.3 points, 4.1 boards, and 5.0 assists per contest. Clark III has scored in double-figures in his 15 straight game on Wednesday as he netted 10 points to go along with six assists in the win over UMKC. Obi Emegano is contributing 13.8 ppg, while Terell Parks adds 11.8 points and a conference-leading 8.8 boards per game.
The Purple Aces improved to 13-13 on Wednesday with a crucial 63-62 victory over the Northern Iowa Panthers. Evansville connected on 50 percent of its field goal attempts versus UNI. The ball movement by Evansville was exceptional as 19 of its 27 field goals were assisted. Head coach Marty Simmons will need to pick up some momentum tonight, as his team is tied for fourth in the MVC with tough games against Creighton and Missouri State on the horizon. Evansville is averaging 72.6 ppg while allowing 71.6 ppg on the defensive end.
The Purple Aces are led by their sensational scorer Colt Ryan. The junior swingman is ranked 16th in the nation in scoring with 20.0 ppg. Ryan is a threat from anyone on the floor as he is hitting 42.8 percent of his three- point attempts. Kenneth Harris is netting 11.3 ppg to contribute to the Racers' scoring efforts. Denver Holmes, Ned Cox, and Troy Taylor are all solid contributors for the Purple Aces, which has made them a deep team capable of upsets.
Evansville is much better than its record indicates, as seven of its losses have come by a combined total of 14 points. Although WIU has a better overall record, three of its wins have come against non-conference competition. Ryan should be able to push the Purple Aces to a victory as his scoring ability is phenomenal.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Evansville 75, Western Illinois 69
02/18 10:36:52 ET