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Evansville (10-11) at Northern Iowa (10-10)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 29, 8 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: McLeod Center (6,650) -- Cedar Falls, Iowa. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Evansville 8-4, Northern Iowa 7-0. Away Record: Evansville 2-7, Northern Iowa 1-8. Neutral Record: Evansville 0-0, Northern Iowa 2-2. Conference Record: Evansville 3-5, Northern Iowa 4-4. Series Record: Evansville leads, 23-20.

GAME NOTES: The Northern Iowa Panthers defeated Evansville once already and seek the season sweep as they host the Purple Aces in Missouri Valley Conference action at the McLeod Center.

Evansville has won two of its last three games, but has lost five of its last eight contests since the new year began. One of those losses was an 80-53 defeat at the hands of the Panthers, whom they'll travel to face Wednesday. The Purple Aces are coming off a 66-60 victory over Bradley Sunday.

Northern Iowa has lost two in a row, one of which was an overtime bout with Loyola-Chicago. The Panthers dropped that contest 93-87 Saturday, setting them back to 4-4 in MVC play this season.

Evansville still has the all-time series lead, 23-20, although it was shortened once already this season with a UNI victory. The loss to the Panthers ended a five-game Evansville win streak in the series.

Evansville pulled ahead of Bradley by 10 points at halftime in the Purple Aces' last outing, 30-20, and never looked back. The Braves made a comeback try in the second half, outscoring Evansville 40-36 in the period, but it wasn't enough. D.J. Balentine scored a team-high 24 points to pace Evansville, adding four assists in the win. He also turned the ball over five times in the contest. Egidijus Mockevicius netted 15 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Purple Aces.

Balentine has been a one-man scoring machine this season for Evansville, netting 22 ppg on 43 percent shooting from the floor. He's the only Purple Ace to average double digits. Balentine needs to be the go-to scorer, but he also tops the squad with 89 assists on the season. Mockevicius leads the team in rebounding at 7.7 rpg with a team-best 34 blocked shots. The Purple Aces average 70.3 ppg and give up 71.2 ppg to their opponents.

Northern Iowa took a two-point lead into the intermission against Loyola- Chicago, but couldn't hold on to the advantage in the second half as the Panthers let the lead slip away. In overtime, the Panthers were outscored, 17-11. Deon Mitchell led the Panthers with 23 points in the contest, while Seth Tuttle netted 17 and grabbed nine rebounds. Both Nate Buss and Matt Bohannon chipped in 12 points for UNI. The Panthers shot 42.2 percent from the field in the loss.

Tuttle paces Northern Iowa this season in scoring, with 14.3 ppg on 48.9 percent shooting from the floor. Tuttle's 8 rpg average is also a team best, along with his 20 blocked shots. Mitchell (12.6 ppg) and Buss (11.1 ppg) are second and third on the team in scoring, respectively. Wes Washpun tops the Panthers in assists with 76 on the year and a team-high 19 steals. UNI is averaging 73.1 ppg on the season.

Evansville has had the upper hand in the series with Northern Iowa the past few years, but it seems like the Purple Aces have been riding the Balentine wave too much this season. If Balentine has an off night, Evansville is sunk. The Panthers have some scoring options and should be able to utilize their homecourt advantage.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Iowa 74, Evansville 70

01/29 10:30:57 ET

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