Southern Illinois (7-6) at Evansville (8-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 5, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Center (10,000) -- Evansville, Indiana. Television: MVC Network. Home Record: SIU 3-1, Evansville 7-2. Away Record: SIU 3-4, Evansville 1-4. Neutral Record: SIU 1-1, Evansville 0-0. Conference Record: SIU 0-2, Evansville 1-1. Series Record: Southern Illinois leads, 65-49.
GAME NOTES: The Southern Illinois Salukis continue their search for a win in league action as they venture to the Ford Center for a Missouri Valley Conference tilt against the Evansville Purple Aces.
SIU lost for the third time in a row on Wednesday when it suffered a 66-60 setback at home to Bradley, which dropped it to 7-6 overall and 0-2 in the MVC standings. Included in their current losing slide are road losses to Utah State (70-58) and Missouri State (70-59), which put the Salukis one game below .500 in away games. SIU is the second least productive school in the MVC on the offensive end with a scoring average of 66.6 ppg, but it is ranked fourth in the league in points allowed per game (62.5).
The Purple Aces ended a two-game losing streak last time out by outlasting Missouri State to collect a 62-59 victory in an overtime thriller at home. The win, which improved the team's record to 8-6 overall, came one game after a 17-point loss at Creighton in the MVC opener for both sides. Evansville is outscoring its opposition by an average margin of 5.0 ppg as it ranks sixth in the conference in both scoring offense (69.0) and scoring defense (64.0).
Although the Purple Aces have come out of their two most recent matchups with Southern Illinois on top, the Salukis still hold a 65-49 all-time series lead after winning eight of the previous 11 encounters.
In the Salukis' loss to Bradley earlier this week, senior guard Desmar Jackson scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Jeff Early contributed 11 points, seven rebounds, and four steals. Anthony Beane Jr. also got into the mix by netting 10 points. Jackson, who leads the team with 15.5 ppg and also grabs 6.4 rpg, finished the non-conference slate off with 50 points in two games, but he has managed only 24 total points in two games of league play so far. Early is the second-leading scorer (12.8) and top rebounder (7.1) for SIU, which will once again be without sophomore forward Dantiel Daniels (10.8 ppg).
The Purple Aces rallied around the strong play of center Egidijus Mockevicius to survive their overtime affair against Missouri State on Wednesday. The rookie center from Lithuania scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and blocked five shots, while Lewis Jones added 14 points and Colt Ryan contributed 13. Troy Taylor was a force on the glass as he pulled down 19 rebounds. Ryan is netting a team-best 14.6 ppg, although that number has risen to 19 ppg in MVC action. Ned Cox is the second option in the offense which has yielded a 10.6 ppg average out of the senior guard.
The Salukis are having trouble putting up points on the board despite ranking third in the conference in field goal percentage due to their inability to convert at the free-throw line (66.2 percent). Evansville needed career nights out of its starting forward and center to survive last time out, but Cox and Ryan should be able to take back control and guide the team past SIU.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Evansville 73, Southern Illinois 59
01/05 10:37:09 ET