Evansville Aces (16-13, 8-8) at Wichita State Shockers (24-5, 12-4)
Missouri Valley Conference Game 17/18
Game Time: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Location: Koch Arena in Wichita, Kan.
Broadcast: WUEV 91.5 FM, ESPN3.com
Game Notes: Click here
Spread: Wichita State opened -11 at Vegas Insider
UE’s Probable Starters: G Troy Taylor, G Ned Cox, F Colt Ryan, F Adam Wing, C Egidijus Mockevicius
Wichita State’s Probable Starters: G Malcolm Armstead, G Tekele Cotton, G Demetric Williams, F Carl Hall, C Ehimen Orukpe
Last Meeting: UE beat then-No. 23 Wichita State 71-67 on Jan. 13 at the Ford Center.
Series History: The Shockers lead the all-time series 22-15 and are 14-4 on their home court against the Aces, where Wednesday’s game will be played. Before UE’s win in January, Wichita State had won five straight.
Feb. 26: Aces face another ‘big’ challenge at Wichita State
Feb. 26: Williams keeps Shockers in right place
Feb. 25: Foot injury leaves UE’s Cox day to day
Feb. 24: Aces ‘playing our best basketball’ late in season
Feb. 24: Wichita State not ready to start party
Feb. 23: With Cox injured, Balentine steps up to lead UE past Wright State
Feb. 23: Shockers bust Detroit
—There’s only a slight chance that UE will slip below sixth in the MVC standings this week, which would force the Aces to open Arch Madness play on Thursday and mean four games in as many days. Wichita State, though, has plenty to play for this last week. With a win, the Shockers clinch a share of the regular-season MVC title. Should they also beat Creighton on Saturday, that means the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
—In its last three games — a close loss to nationally ranked Creighton and wins over Illinois State as well as Wright State — UE is out-rebounding opponents by an average 8.7 boards a game. When the Aces lost six of nine games before that, they were being out-rebounded by one a game.
—Wichita State meanwhile leads the MVC in rebounding at 38.3 boards per game while limiting opponents to a league-low 30.2 of them. Senior Carl Hall, who didn’t play in the teams’ first meeting while recovering from a broken thumb, is the conference’s top offensive rebounder at 3.8 per contest.
—In addition to second place on UE’s all-time scoring list, senior Colt Ryan — the MVC’s Player of the Week — is 10th on the league’s all-time scoring list and just three points from ninth. Ryan averages 22.6 points per game against conference opponents.
—Freshman Adam Wing, a starter in UE’s last three games, has averaged 31 minutes in those contest and set new career highs in nearly every statistical category: points (10), rebounds (eight), assists (four) and minutes played (35).
—Since the beginning of the 1999-2000 season, UE is 23-102 in MVC road games. Though the Aces went out of conference to beat Wright State away from the Ford Center last weekend, their last league road victory came on Jan. 9 at Northern Iowa.
—Since a late December stretch when he scored just six points total in five games, freshman D.J. Balentine has averaged 7.7 points a game in UE’s last 13 contests. Balentine came off the bench last weekend with senior Ned Cox injured to score 18 points — all after Cox left with a foot injury.
UE coach Marty Simmons on a second meeting with Wichita State: “We were pretty fortunate (the first time) — there’s no doubt about that. We were pretty sloppy at the end of the game, but I thought our guys played hard and did some good things. They obviously didn’t have Carl hall and a couple other two or three guys that have been injured. We’re just continuing to work hard. Playing at Wichita is — they’ve got one of the best environments if not the best environment in the nation — the way their fans support their team is incredible. We’re just going to prepare, go out there and play the best we can.”
Simmons on the impact Shockers senior Carl Hall, who missed the first game, could have Wednesday: “They’re a tough team to prepare for anyway. They’re well-coached. Gregg’s done a terrific job. Those guys are very talented. They’ve got great size. They play extremely hard. Their mentality is as good as anybody’s. Hall is the leader of that. He’s a tough, strong, physical basketball player that runs the floor well and gets great position inside. He’s a great offensive rebounder that seems to be a great leader and teammate. He’s a heads-up player. He’s a hell of a player. He can do a lot of things, and to have a guy like that back is certainly a shot in the arm. But there’s a lot of really good players on that team, and I think they’ve done a great job of getting guys to accept their roles. They’ve got a lot of weapons.”
UE senior Ned Cox on playing the Shockers: “We’re just trying to get a win no matter how we’ve got to get it. We know it’s going to be a tough-fought game – very physical. We’ll just have to be on our ‘A’ game.”
With Cox potentially out with a foot injury, more could be called upon from freshman D.J. Balentine. Simmons: “More than anything, (Balentine) likes to play. He’s a freshman, and so going into these venues his first time around, I think he’s been impressed with that. He’s been really good for us. I think there for a while, he might have hit the wall so to speak. But he’s responded. He obviously had a very good game for us against Wright State on Saturday. I’d call him a gamer. He loves competition, and he likes to play.”
Outlook: Like the last time UE and Wichita State played, Wednesday presents an opportunity for the Aces to beat the Shockers while both teams are on a roll. This time, it comes on the road, though, and with Wichita State aiming for a conference title. Pass this test, and UE proves a lot to itself heading into Arch Madness.