Evansville (11-11) at Southern Illinois (7-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 4th, 3:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: SIU Arena (9,628) -- Carbondale, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Evansville 7-6, SIU 5-5. Away Record: Evansville 4-5, SIU 2-8. Neutral Record: Evansville 0-0, SIU 0-3. Conference Record: Evansville 6-6, SIU 4-8. Series Record: Southern Illinois leads 64-49.
GAMES NOTES: Southern Illinois will be looking for some revenge as the Salukis welcome in the Evansville Purple Aces for a Missouri Valley Conference clash at SIU Arena.
Evansville ran away with the first meeting this season by a score of 78-60. Despite the win the Purple Aces still trail in the all-time series with Southern Illinois holding a 64-49 advantage.
After back-to-back losses, Evansville desperately needed the reprieve of playing last place Bradley whom the Purple Aces blasted 92-62 on Wednesday. The win put Evansville back at .500 in league play at 6-6 which is tied with four other teams for third in the conference. The Purple Aces will have a real test in their next matchup when they host No. 13 Creighton.
Southern Illinois has been tanking recently with only one win in its last six games including losses in back-to-back games. The Salukis are now 4-8 in the MVC which is above only Bradley in the standings. This game is the first of a two-game homestand for the Salukis who will host Missouri State on Wednesday.
The win over Bradley was the largest margin of victory on the season for Evansville and the highest point total as well for the Purple Aces. The previous high also came against Bradley when Evansville posted a 90-67 victory. The Purple Aces coasted to the victory by connecting on more than twice as many fields goals (41-20) than Bradley while also out rebounding the Braves 40-25 and forcing 18 turnovers.
Offense has come easily to Evansville this season with the team putting in 75.1 points per game which is third in the conference. The Purple Aces build their offense around solid passing as they dish out 15.8 assists per game which is second in the MVC and 27th in the country. It is certainly easy to score with the play of junior guard Colt Ryan this season. Ryan is second in the conference pouring in 21.2 points per game and also adds on the boards (4.5 rpg) and passing game (3.1 apg). Ryan had 24 points and nine assists in the win over Bradley. After Ryan the second option is slowly turning into Denver Holmes. The senior guard (11.1 ppg, 3.7 apg) had a season-high 23 points and 11 assists in the win over Bradley but needs to score more consistently for the Purple Aces to find success as he was held out of double figures in the two previous games. Senior swing-man Kenneth Harris (11.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) is the third scorer averaging double figures for Evansville.
It was a low-scoring affair in Southern Illinois' last game, a 58-49 loss on the road to Northern Iowa. Southern Illinois shot only 35.3 percent from the floor in the loss including 5-of-16 from beyond the arc, and was outscored 20-8 from the free throw line.
Southern Illinois has struggled to score effectively during its losing stretch. The Salukis have been held to under 50 points in three of their last four games dropping the teams scoring average to 63.6 points per game. Southern Illinois' defense hasn't been able to assist allowing 69.1 points per game for a -5.5 scoring differential. Senior forward Mamadou Seck is the only player on the team averaging in double figures by putting in 12.4 points per game. Seck has also carried the team on the boards, bringing down 7.9 per game which is good for third in the conference. Freshman forward Dantiel Daniels (8.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg) is Seck's battery mate on the inside and has also been an effective force on defense collecting a conference leading 1.8 per game. The swoon of junior guard Kendal Brown-Surles has been disappointing for the Salukis. Brown-Surles scored in double figures in seven of nine games earlier this season but has had a combined 11 points in the last four games including a scoreless contest against Wichita State.
The most important part of basketball is getting the ball in the hoop and right now one of these teams is having no problem doing so while the other can't seem to find its rhythm. Expect Evansville's high-octane offense to run by Southern Illinois.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Evansville 74, Southern Illinois 62
02/04 10:42:45 ET
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