Northern Iowa Panthers (11-10, 4-5) at Evansville Aces (12-9, 5-4)
Missouri Valley Conference Game 10/18
Game Time: 7:05 p.m. Tuesday
Location: Ford Center
Broadcast: WUEV 91.5 FM
Live Coverage: Follow on Twitter (@ECP_Lintner)
Spread: UE -1.5 at Vegas Insider
UE’s Probable Starters: G Troy Taylor, G Ned Cox, F Colt Ryan, F Lewis Jones, C Egidijus Mockevicius
Northern Iowa’s Probable Starters: G Anthony James, G Deon Mitchell, G Marc Sonnen, F Jake Koch, F Seth Tuttle
Last Meeting: UE won 62-59 on Jan. 9 at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Series History: UE owns a 22-19 all-time series edge over Northern Iowa, and the Aces are 15-5 in home games such as Tuesday’s. With a win over the Panthers earlier this month, UE made it four straight against the MVC foe.
Jan. 28: Respect mutual between UE’s Simmons, UNI’s Jacobson
Jan. 28: UNI has incentive on Tuesday at UE
Jan. 27: Preparation remains key for Aces after another loss
Jan. 26: Big runs down UE at Illinois State as Aces’ offense sags
Jan. 26: Late foul, free throws sink Panthers at Indiana State
—UE is undefeated in its home MVC games this season (against Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Wichita State and Bradley). The Aces are 1-4 in league road games, with the lone victory coming at Northern Iowa.
—Northern Iowa makes 75.8 percent of its free throws — tops in the MVC — but UE’s shooting the best in conference games at 81.4 percent. Aces senior Colt Ryan’s 90.2 percent free throw shooting rate leads the MVC individually.
—But will UE get to the line? Off a game in which Illinois State attempted 18 more free throws than the Aces, they’ll see a Northern Iowa team that’s 33rd in the nation at 15.3 fouls per game.
—With 963 career points, UE senior Ned Cox is just 37 away from becoming the 45th player in program history to join the 1,000-point club.
—UE has hit just 30.3 percent of its 3-point attempts in MVC play while opponents have shot 40.1 percent.
—UE’s four seniors are responsible for 70 percent of the Aces’ scoring and 20 of 23 double-figure performances in MVC play. Freshman D.J. Balentine has reached double figures twice in conferences games and Egidijus Mockevicius once.
—The Aces are 10-0 when they hold a lead at the 35-minute mark, but they came back from a deficit with five minutes to go just once to sit at 1-9 on the other end of that stat. UE was tied with Wichita State at that point in the game before beating the Shockers.
UE coach Marty Simmons on his relationship with UNI coach Ben Jacobson: “Ben is just somebody that I guess I’ve gotten to know a little bit over my last few years here in Evansville, and just watching his teams play, they’re very, very intelligent – very smart. They understand how to play basketball. They’re unselfish. They’re tough. They can run a lot of different things at you. He’s definitely someone as a coach that I have tons of respect for.”
Simmons on the free throw disparity at Illinois State: “They’ve got two great players in (Tyler) Brown and (Jackie) Carmichael. I think, No. 1, you have to give those guys credit. They worked extremely hard to get to the line. They were aggressive. And you’ve got to play hard, aggressive defense without fouling. When you’re playing against talented, athletic, strong players, that’s sometimes a difficult challenge. But it’s one we have to continue to work at and get better at to be successful. But in the heat of battle, due to the physicality of playing, sometimes you’re going to get fouls called. With those two, I think they were just really aggressive.”
Jacobson on getting free throw opportunities against UE: “You’ve got to find a way to create angles so you can put yourself on the free throw line. And then at the other end, we’ve got to do a good job tomorrow of getting our defense back and not allowing opportunities in transition. And then you’ve got to guard them well, and you’ve got to guard them with a big portion of that shot clock without fouling them. Because they use so many screens in that motion, that’s a hard thing to do.”
Jacobson on seeing UE a second time: “We didn’t play very well offensively (in the first game). In the first half they slowed us down with what they were doing at the defensive end of the floor. We didn’t handle it well enough, even into the start of the second half. From an offensive standpoint we finally got some things opened up a bit. We did more things with the ball screens and created some space on the floor so we could run some offense. I think that’s an important part of it for us. We’ve got to be able to create some space on the floor. If we play offense inside of 15 feet, there’s too many people in there and the game gets bogged down too much.”
Outlook: Now 2-6 on the road this season, winning anything at the Ford Center only becomes that much more important for UE. And as far as contending for an MVC championship, any game not against Creighton or Wichita State is a must win.