Evansville (11-7) at Indiana State (11-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 19, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hulman Center (10,200) -- Terre Haute, Indiana. Television: FSN. Home Record: Evansville 9-2, Indiana St. 6-1. Away Record: Evansville 2-5, Indiana St. 3-4. Neutral Record: Evansville 0-0, Indiana St. 2-1. Conference Record: Evansville 4-2, Indiana St. 4-2. Series Record: Indiana State leads, 82-74.
GAME NOTES: Jockeying for position around the top of the Missouri Valley Conference will take center stage in Terre Haute on Saturday, as the Evansville Purple Aces and Indiana State Sycamores collide on the floor of the Hulman Center.
The hometown Sycamores are a solid 11-6 on the season, which includes a 4-2 mark in MVC play. Indiana State has won two of its last three games, including a 68-60 decision over Missouri State this week at home, where ISU is 6-1 on the season.
Evansville has also been superb at home (9-2), but has struggled on the road, with just two wins in seven attempts. Evansville's road woes continued this week at Drake, falling 83-69 to the Bulldogs, effectively ending a four-game win streak for the Purple Aces and leaving them at 4-2 in conference play as well.
Indiana State owns an 82-74 lead in the all-time series with Evansville, as this game represents the 157th all-time meeting. The Purple Aces are the most played opponent in ISU history. Indiana State has won five of the last seven meetings, including a season sweep last year.
Evansville kept things close in the first half against Drake, trailing by just a single point at the break (39-38). However, the Purple Aces lost their way in the second half, shooting an ugly 24.1 percent over the final 20 minutes, resulting in a 14-point loss. The setback wasted another strong performance by Colt Ryan, who poured in a game-high 25 points, fueled by a perfect 16-of-16 from the free-throw line. DJ Balentine added 13 points off the bench and Ned Cox finished with 12 points, but the remainder of the roster accounted for just 19 points total.
Ryan is shooting a mere .412 from the floor this season, but is still the driving force for Evansville, averaging a team-high 16.9 points per game. Cox is the only other double-digit threat at this time at 10.8 ppg. Balentine provides some support off the bench with 8.7 ppg. Overall, Evansville is averaging 69.6 ppg, while allowing opponents just 65.2 ppg.
Four Sycamores finished with 10 points, as Indiana State shot a sizzling 57.1 percent from the floor to earn an eight-point win at home over Missouri State this week. Manny Arop, Justin Gant, Devonte Brown and Dawon Cummings all tallied double figures in the win for ISU.
The Sycamores aren't an offensive juggernaut, putting up modest offensive numbers with 68.2 ppg on .435 shooting. Jake Odum headlines the scoring options for ISU with 14.1 ppg. Odum, who is shooting a respectable .481 from the field overall, is also active with the ball, getting to the free-throw line a whopping 133 times thus far, converting 101 of those charity tosses. Arop is the only other player currently in double figures with 12.8 ppg. Gant (8.9 ppg) and R.J. Mahurin (8.8 ppg) provide limited scoring depth.
Evansville has not traveled well and winning in Terre Haute won't be easy, especially with Odum playing at a high level.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Indiana State 64, Evansville 59
01/19 10:30:59 ET