Loyola-Chicago (7-10) at Evansville (8-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 2:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Center (10,000) -- Evansville, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: Loyola 6-2, Evansville 6-4. Away Record: Loyola 0-7, Evansville 2-6. Neutral Record: Loyola 1-1, Evansville 0-0. Conference Record: Loyola 2-3, Evansville 1-4. Series Record: Evansville leads, 21-16.
GAME NOTES: The Evansville Purple Aces return home to the Ford Center on Saturday afternoon to take on the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in the Missouri Valley Conference clash.
Loyola most recently snapped a two-game losing streak on Wednesday night when they conquered Drake at home, 70-60, to improve to 7-10 overall and 2-3 in the MVC. The Ramblers have been hapless on the road this season, however, losing all seven away games.
Evansville fought tooth and nail with Illinois Sate on Wednesday before falling in overtime by a heartbreaking 79-78 final for its fourth loss in the past five games. The Purple Aces are now just 8-10 on the season and 1-4 in league play, although they have defended their home floor admirably at 6-4.
These newly-formed conference rivals haven't played one another since November of 2005, when Loyola won, 99-86. Evansville still leads the all-time series, 21-16.
The Ramblers trailed for most of their latest contest versus Drake, including by six with just over 10 minutes to play, but they caught fire down the stretch, finishing the game off on a 25-9 run to capture the 10-point victory. The squad shot an impressive 50 percent from the field and were paced by the efforts of Milton Doyle, who scored 28 points on 10-of-17 from the field, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Devon Turk came off the bench to pour in 13 points, while Jeff White and Christian Thomas each registered 10 points.
Loyola consistently shoots a high percentage from the field, as it makes good on 48.7 percent of its shots overall, but that success has only translated into 67.8 ppg. The positive result of it deliberate pace has been its impressed scoring defense (66.9 ppg). Doyle is the catalyst, scoring 15.4 ppg on 45.5 percent from the field, although he does have more turnovers (56) than assists (54). Thomas (13.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is a mainstay in the frontcourt, while White (11.1 ppg) and Turk (9.9 ppg) are both integral pieces of the puzzle as well.
The Purple Aces grabbed hold of a three-point lead in the final minute of regulation earlier in the week before Illinois State tied the game and sent it to overtime on a 3-pointer with eight second left, and in the extra session their game-winning attempt from long range at the buzzer did not fall. They were ultimately done in by a poor defensive effort, which spoiled their outstanding night from beyond the arc (15-of-30). D.J Balentine made six of those long-range buckets on his way to 22 points, while also finding time to hand out eight assists. Blake Summons tallied 16 points, Adam Wing registered 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists, Tyler Ptacek netted 12 and Egidiju Mockevicius logged a double-double with 10 points and 18 rebounds.
Evansvfar from Wichita State's most impressive offensive outing earlier in the week, as it shot just 39.6 percent from the floor, but it still cruised to a 22-point victory by holding Bradley to a mere 35.2 percent shooting and by winning both the rebounding (41-31) and the turnover (13-9) battles. Fred VanVleet led the charge with 22 points (on 7-of-10 from the field), seven rebounds and three assists. Darius Carter helped out in just 14 minutes off the bench with 11 points.
To no one's surprise, the Shockers have dominated both ends of the court this season en route to their perfect record, as they outshoot their opponents from the field, 44.7 percent to 39.7 percent, for a +15.1 scoring margin. Adding to their impressive resume its their strong margins in the rebounding (+7.9) and turnover (+3.8) departments, but if they have one weakness it comes from beyond the arc, where they shoot just 32.7 percent. Cleanthony Early has proven himself to be one of the MVC's top forwards with 16.0 ppg and 6.6 rpg, while shooting 82.6 percent from the free-throw line. VanVleet and Ron Baker patrol the perimeter with 12.8 ppg apiece, and the duo have combined to hand out 8.5 apg. Tekele Cotton narrowly misses the double-digit scorer's club with 9.6 ppg.
Indiana State has an opportunity in this one to make claim to the top spot in the MVC by downing one of the nation's top teams. However, as dominant as Wichita State has played this season, especially at Koch Arena, don't expect that to happen.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wichita State 72, Indiana State 65
01/18 10:27:19 ET