Evansville (14-11) at Southern Illinois (9-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 13, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: SIU Arena (8,339) -- Carbondale, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Evansville 12-2, SIU 5-4. Away Record: Evansville 2-9, SIU 3-10. Neutral Record: Evansville 0-0, SIU 1-1. Conference Record: Evansville 7-6, SIU 2-11. Series Record: SIU leads, 65-50.
GAMES NOTES: The Evansville Purple Aces will hope two days is enough time to recharge from an overtime bout as they head to SIU Arena for a Missouri Valley Conference showdown with the Southern Illinois Salukis.
Powered by the explosive scoring of Colt Ryan, the Purple Aces were able to rally and hold on in overtime in an 84-78 victory against Drake on Sunday. The win stopped a two-game slide for Evansville which is 14-11 overall. However, the Purple Aces have had the vast majority of their success at home (12-2), while struggling to get any traction on the road (2-9). That disparity has also shown up in their league record with the Purple Aces a middling 7-6 against MVC foes. Evansville plays its next two games at home, including a rematch with Creighton.
Southern Illinois came close last time out but a Jake Odum layup with 19 seconds left sank the Salukis in a 66-65 decision against Indiana State. It was the seventh loss in the last eight games for Southern Illinois which has spent the bulk of the season at the bottom of the MVC with a record of just 2-11. That puts the Salukis dead last and three games back of the next spot in the MVC standings. Southern Illinois, which is 5-4 at home, will be back at SIU Arena on Saturday against Missouri State.
Evansville already picked up a win against Southern Illinois this season with an 85-68 rout at the Ford Center on Jan. 5. It was the third win in the last four meetings between the two squads for Evansville, though the Salukis still lead the all-time series, 65-50.
Ryan poured in a season-high 33 points in leading Evansville over Drake. Ryan hit a clutch 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining to force overtime and scored six of the Purple Aces' final eight points in the extra session to help them pull out the win.
Ryan (18.8 ppg, 4.0 apg) has been dropping in bucket after bucket during his entire time with Evansville and on Sunday he reached the 2,000-point plateau for his career. Other than Creighton's Doug McDermott, no player in the conference is scoring more than Ryan, who also ranks among the top 10 distributors in the conference. However, outside of Ryan the Purple Aces don't have a ton of scoring options with Ned Cox (11.4 ppg) one of just two other players scoring more than seven points per game. Troy Taylor (6.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 4.0 apg) makes up for his lack of scoring ability by leading the team in rebounding, while also proving to be a solid passer.
After leading by 10 points at one time in the second half, Southern Illinois allowed Indiana State to rally and take a 47-46 lead with 9:38 remaining. There was five ties and five lead changes during the rest of the period with the final one coming when Odum sank his game-winning layup.
Desmar Jackson (15.9 ppg, 5.8 ppg, 2.0 spg) is Southern Illinois' answer to Ryan as he leads the squad in scoring, while also proving to be a pesky defender. ranking third in the conference in steals. Jeff Early (11.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg) adds some scoring punch and has excelled as a rebounder, despite his 6-foot-1 frame. No other player on the squad is scoring in double figures, although Anthony Beane Jr. (9.5 ppg) has shown flashes of ability. Southern Illinois is the second lowest scoring team in the MVC (64 ppg).
If Evansville is going to compete and set itself up well for the postseason it needs to start collecting wins on the road. Southern Illinois is the worst team in the MVC and should allow the Purple Aces to reverse their fortunes away from the Ford Center.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Evansville 71, Southern Illinois 65
02/13 10:35:55 ET