Stories from Saturday’s Vectren Community Classic game, won 73-55 by UE over USI:
—The Ford Center didn’t have the atmosphere of a rivalry game, but it certainly didn’t feel like an exhibition either. The smallest crowd in UE-USI series history got loud enough to serve both teams well moving forward.
—UE coach Marty Simmons commented this week something to the effect of, what more can you say about Colt Ryan that hasn’t been said already? Well, Ryan created just another memory Saturday by taking over when it counted most. He scored nine points during UE’s 17-3 second half run as the Aces pulled away from a 43-42 score. Add “clutch” to his arsenal, something UE had in the past with Denver Holmes on the roster (by the way, Ryan went 3 for 3 from long Range…Holmes-eque). Now it’s up to the rest of UE’s team to contribute to the scoring column, which should determine how far the Aces can go this season.
—Sophomore Jaylon Moore earned most minutes at the five spot, really by circumstance. Ryan Sawvell got the start and proved effective, but he left with two fouls in the first half. Egidijus Mockevicius saw some game time, even scored, but also left with foul trouble. Even though Sawvell came back to start the second half, Moore logged the majority of court time and did so effectively. His final line read 13 points and 7 rebounds, though Moore had a number of opportunities rim out on shots in which he was fouled, and then he went just 3 of 6 from the line. He also got touches but then couldn’t quite get a handle on some rebounds down low. Fix those things, and Moore would have neared 20 points and 10 rebounds.
—Probable starters on game notes don’t usually mean much. I thought that too when I saw UE’s early Saturday: Ryan, Sawvell, Ned Cox, Troy Taylor and Lewis Jones. For one, Jones had never started a game. But those game notes proved true, and Jones got the nod. He didn’t at all load up the stat sheet in 19 minutes, but UE’s coaches are obviously counting on Jones to step up this season.
—Simmons pointed to sophomore Jordan Jahr and freshman D.J. Balentine as players who added a spark off the bench against USI. Jahr had six rebounds in his first game since early last season, before he broke his foot. Balentine hit a 3-pointer in his first college game, period. Jahr could be the kind of guy to work his way into the starting lineup, and Balentine’s 19 minutes against USI are a pretty good indication that he’ll be a part of the regular rotation.
—I’ll touch on this in Monday’s paper, but basically, USI had plenty of chances — really, really good chances — at easy buckets. Most of them rimmed out, and the Eagles at one point were shooting 8 percent in the first half. They finished 33 percent from the field. Ryan called the defensive effort “fool’s gold.”
—Jordan Nelson played just six minutes and didn’t take a shot, though his 3-point ability should land him in the rotation this season after averaging 6.4 minutes per game alst year as a freshman. Newcomers David Howard and Adam Wing only saw action at the end of the game after the Aces pulled away. Rokas Cesnulevicius was the only scholarship player not to play.