Evansville (8-9) at Illinois State (9-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 15, 8:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Redbird Arena (10,200) -- Normal, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Evansville 6-4, Illinois State 6-2. Away Record: Evansville 2-5, Illinois State 2-4. Neutral Record: Evansville 0-0, Illinois State 1-1. Conference Record: Evansville 1-3, Illinois State 2-2. Series Record: Illinois State leads, 30-17.
GAME NOTES: After losing three straight and six of their last seven games, the Evansville Purple Aces look to string two wins together as they host the Illinois State Redbirds in Missouri Valley Conference play at Redbird Arena.
Evansville ended a three-game losing streak with a 75-69 victory over Southern Illinois in MVC action Saturday. Now, as the Purple Aces hit the road again to Illinois, they will try to win back-to-back games for the first time since starting the season 5-0.
Illinois State got back in the win column with a 59-50 victory over Loyola- Illinois Saturday in MVC play. The Redbirds have won four of their last six games and haven't lost two in a row since late November.
Illinois State holds a commanding lead in the all-time series with Evansville, 30-17. The Redbirds hold an 18-4 advantage in Normal against the Purple Aces.
Evansville was led by D.J. Balentine's career effort in the 75-69 escape of Southern Illinois Saturday. Balentine netted a career-best 33 points on 11- of-20 shooting from the floor, which included 6-of-10 from 3-point range in the contest. Balentine added six rebounds and five assists playing in all 40 minutes of action. Egidiju Mockevicius scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the double-double, while Blake Simmons chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds. In the second half against SIU, Evansville shot 6-of-7 from 3- point distance.
Balentine remains one of the top scorers in the nation while leading the Purple Aces this season with 22.4 ppg on 44.7 percent shooting from the floor. He's the only member of the Purple Aces to average over nine points per contest. He's a passer, too, recording a team-high 68 assists through 17 games played. Simmons is second on the squad, averaging 8.8 ppg.
Illinois State made sure to step up its defensive game in the second half against Loyola-Chicago, allowing the Ramblers to score just 23 points in 20 minutes as the Redbirds went on to win. Nick Zeisloft scored a team-high 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting - all four makes came from beyond the 3-point arc. Reggie Lynch added 11 points and five rebounds, while Bobby Hunter and John Jones each contributed 10. The Redbirds won despite shooting just 39.3 percent from the floor in the contest.
Daishon Knight leads the team this season in scoring at 12.8 ppg, adding a healthy 4.4 rpg and 39 total assists to his stat line. His 4.4 rpg is a team- high. Zach Lofton is second at 11.3 ppg, and Hunter is third with 10.1 ppg. The Redbirds are shooting an even 40 percent from the floor and averaging 69.6 ppg this season.
Balentine is truly a special player, but he can't do everything himself and hope for his team to come out victorious on a regular basis. Illinois State plays some solid defense, and if Balentine's effectiveness is limited, so is his team's.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois State 70, Evansville 65
01/15 10:36:56 ET
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