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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 10, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cintas Center (10,250) -- Cincinnati, Ohio. Television: FS1. Home Record: Evansville 5-0, Xavier 6-0. Away Record: Evansville 1-3, Xavier 0-3. Neutral Record: Evansville 0-0, Xavier 0-0. Conference Record: Evansville 0-0, Xavier 0-0. Series Record: Xavier leads, 25-14.
GAME NOTES: The Xavier Musketeers will renew a rivalry on Tuesday with a test against the Evansville Purple Aces at the Cintas Center.
The Purple Aces put an end to a three-game slide on Saturday during a matchup with Miami-Ohio. A 78-65 triumph pushed the Purple Aces to 6-3 overall on the season, though they are just 1-3 in games as the visiting squad. That won't be a concern in the next three games as Evansville will be hosting a trio of contests against Jackson State, Butler and Grambling State next.
Xavier also managed to stop a three-game skid on Saturday, in an 85-73 overtime victory over Bowling Green. Xavier's losing streak had come during the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas. Before heading off for that event, the Musketeers opened the season with five straight wins at home. Xavier will face arch rival Cincinnati in its next bout this Saturday.
This is the first meeting between these teams since 1994 when they were both members of the now defunct Midwestern Collegiate Conference. Xavier won that final meeting with a 73-66 decision and leads the all-time series, 25-14.
D.J. Balentine poured in 22 points and Egidijus Mockevicius posted a double- double (17 points, 13 rebounds) to push the Purple Aces past Miami-Ohio. Evansville shot 52.3 percent from the floor to make up for a 19-5 deficit in points off turnovers during the contest.
Balentine has accounted for a large chunk of the offensive production for Evansville this season. The 6-foot-2 guard is averaging 24.9 points per game and has had at least 25 points in six of nine games this season. No other player on the roster is scoring in double figures on a regular basis, though Adam Wing (9.6 ppg) and Egidijus Mockevicius (9.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg) are certainly capable of doing so. Duane Gibson (8.9 ppg, 5.3 apg) may not be lighting up the scoreboard with his own shots, but he has been extremely effective in setting up his teammates. Blake Simmons (8.8 ppg) rounds out the starting lineup.
Xavier let an 11-point lead in the second half evaporate against Bowling Green. The Musketeers actually trailed, 68-66, in the last 15 seconds, but Semaj Christon hit a pair of free throws to force overtime. In the extra session Xavier dominated, hitting 4-of-7 field goal attempts and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line to pull away for the win.
Playing in a tight contest is not a common occurrence for Xavier, which owns a +10.3 scoring differential through the first nine games. Xavier hits on 49 percent of its attempts from the floor, while holding opponents to just 40.1 percent shooting. Christon (15.9 ppg, 4.2 apg) is the leading scorer for the unit and the only player to be averaging more than 30 minutes per game. Christon finished with 22 points in the win over Bowling Green. Matt Stainbrook (10 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Myles Davis (10 ppg) are the other double-figure scoring threats for the Musketeers, while Isaiah Philmore (9.4 ppg) and Dee Davis (5.6 ppg, 4.4 apg) provide additional depth.
The key to stopping Evansville is to slow down Balentine, who is averaging 18 points per game during the Purple Aces' losses. The Musketeers should be able to keep his production down on their home floor and ride Christon and their superior depth to a victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Xavier 77, Evansville 67
12/10 10:30:14 ET