Evansville (20-14) at Canisius (20-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 26, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Koessler Athletic Center (2,176) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: None. CIT Record: Evansville 2-1, Canisius 2-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Billy Baron will look to stay hot as he leads the Canisius Golden Griffins against the Evansville Purple Aces in the quarterfinals of the CIT at the Koessler Athletic Center.
This will be the first meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. The winner will advance to the semifinals, but will have to wait until the tourney is re-seeded to find out its next opponent.
Baron hit the game-winning free throws in the closing moments of overtime to punctuate a marvelous performance as the junior guard finished with 30 points to lift the Golden Griffins to an 84-82 victory over Youngstown State, while his father and head coach Jim Baron watched his squad collect its 20th victory on the year. The younger Baron also provided six rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Alshwan Hymes added 19 points off the bench.
Baron has been the go-to-guy for Canisius all season long as he paces the squad with 17.1 points and five assists per tilt. Harold Washington is also a serviceable scorer at 13.8 ppg. Chris Manhertz provides an inside presence to collect 8.9 boards per outing. The Golden Griffins are a talented offensive squad, netting 73.0 ppg, which is the 52nd best mark among Division I schools. The elder Baron has made an immediate impact after taking over a team that finished 5-25 a season ago.
The visiting Purple Aces took down a pair of Ohio Valley Conference programs in their first two CIT games. First they coasted past Tennessee State in an 84-72 victory before downing Eastern Kentucky, 86-72, on Saturday. Evansville's win marked its 20th of the season, giving the school its first 20-win campaign since the 1998-99 season. The Purple Aces are 6-1 over the span of their last seven games.
Colt Ryan scored 25 points to lead Evansville past EKU last time out. He had plenty of help, as Troy Taylor added 16 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, while Ned Cox and D.J. Ballentine had 13 points apiece. Evansville had a 24-11 advantage from the free-throw line, having nearly twice as many attempts as the Colonels (35-18). Led by 10 boards from Ryan Sawvell, the Purple Aces also had a dominating, 41-20 advantage in rebounds. Not only is Ryan the top scorer for Evansville on the season (19.6 ppg), shooting a lights-out 89.5 percent at the free-throw line, he is also first in assists with 4.0 per outing. Cox accounts for another 11.0 ppg, which means the duo is responsible for a huge portion of the unit's 68.1 ppg average on the season.
The battle between Ryan and Baron will be a very interesting matchup. Baron has a tendency to be streaky and follow up strong showings with less spectacular performances, but he has plenty of help and the homecourt advantage on his side. The Purple Aces were not a stellar road team during the regular season, but they cannot be counted out due to Ryan's excellent play.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Canisius 75, Evansville 72
03/26 10:34:18 ET