Murray State (6-1) at Evansville (5-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 8, 2:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Center (10,000) -- Evansville, Indiana. Television: Racer Television Network. Home Record: Murray State 3-0, Evansville 4-1. Away Record: Murray State 1-0, Evansville 1-2. Neutral Record: Murray State 2-1, Evansville 0-0. Conference Record: Murray State 0-0, Evansville 0-0. Series Record: Murray State leads, 22-10.
GAMES NOTES: The Murray State Racers will look to extend its win streak to four games on Saturday when they invade the Ford Center for a bout with the Evansville Purple Aces.
After a 76-54 rout of Bethel on Tuesday, Murray State earned its third straight win and improved to 6-1 on the season. The Racers' only loss came against Colorado in the finals of the Charleston Classic. The Racers have played only one true road game this season, which ended in a win against Lipscomb. Murray State hosts Western Kentucky next.
The Purple Aces got back in the win column with a 94-68 rout of Miami-Ohio in its last outing. Evansville had lost 79-72 to Colorado State in the previous game but has won four of its last five games. Evansville is 5-3 overall but has a strong 4-1 record on its home floor. This is the second game of a four-game homestand for Evansville, which continues against Alabama State next Saturday.
These teams met in 2011 when Murray State won its third straight against Evansville 72-47. That win also pushed the Racers to a 22-10 edge in the all- time series.
Murray State ran out to a big lead at halftime and then coasted in the second half to defeat Bethel. The Racers led 39-18 at the break after shooting 51.5 percent from the floor. Murray State also held a 49-35 edge on the boards while forcing 18 turnovers. If there was one area where the Racers weren't superior it was from beyond the arc where they hit just 3-of-19 shots. Ed Daniel's 23-point, 14-rebound double-double led the way.
As was the case last season, Murray State's nickname is appropriate considering the offensive pace the Racers play at. As a team Murray State is scoring 79.4 points per game while shooting 47.3 percent from the field. Those marks are both within the top 40 best in the country. Murray State also turns up the heat on the other end by holding teams to 38.9 percent shooting. Running the show for the Racers is electric guard Isaiah Canaan. The 6-foot-1 senior is the 10th highest scoring player in the country (21.4 ppg) while also leading the team in assists (3.9 pg). Stacy Wilson (16.6 ppg) is also a talented scorer out of the backcourt. Daniel (16.3 ppg, 11.7 rpg) gives the Racers some versatility with his play on the inside. The 6-foot-7 forward has had a double-double in each of the last five games.
It didn't seem like any of Evansville's shots were off the mark in its rout of Miami-Ohio. The Purple Aces shot a scorching 63.2 percent and nailed an incredible 14-of-18 from 3-point range. Evansville also dominated on the boards collecting 38 rebounds to the RedHawks' 13. In fact, Evansville had nearly as many offensive rebounds (12) as Miami had total boards. Yet again it was Colt Ryan leading the charge with 18 points and eight assists.
Ryan got off to a slow start, missing two of the first five games, while playing more than 10 minutes in a game just once. The 6-foot-5 senior looks back to form of late as he has scored 19.5 points per game in the last two contests. Overall he is scoring 11.3 points per game, which is still the second best mark on the team. D.J. Balentine (11.8 ppg) is the top scorer but has done so off the bench, Balentine is used primarily for his ability to shoot from beyond the arc where he has shot at a stellar 48.8 percent. Ned Cox (10.8 ppg) is the only player to have started all eight games to be scoring in double figures. Such lack of scoring depth has led the Evansville only putting in 64.2 points per game. However, the Purple Aces have tightened up on defense by surrendering only 57.1 points on 42.8 percent shooting.
Getting Ryan back to form will certainly help Evansville keep up with Murray State. However the Purple Aces don't get enough production from the supporting cast to slow the Racers down.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 75, Evansville 65
12/08 10:37:47 ET