Basic info: Evansville (17-4, 6-2 MVC) at Southern Illinois (18-3, 7-1 MVC), 7 p.m. Thursday at SIU Arena in Carbondale, Illinois.
Evansville: Jaylon Brown (6-0, Jr., G, 11.2 ppg, 3.0 apg); D.J. Balentine (6-2, Sr., G, 21.1 ppg, 4.5 apg); Blake Simmons (6-5, Jr., G/F, 5.5 ppg, 3.7 apg); Adam Wing (6-4, Sr., F, 8.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg); Egidijus Mockevicius (6-10, Sr., C, 17.0 ppg, 14.5 rpg).
Southern Illinois: Sean O’Brien (6-7, Jr., F, 12.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg); Bola Olaniyan (6-7, Jr., C, 7.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg); Mike Rodriguez (5-10, Jr., G, 9.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg); Tyler Smithpeters (6-4, Jr., G, 7.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg); Anthony Beane (6-2, Sr., G, 19.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg).
Noting Evansville: D.J. Balentine is the NCAA’s active leading scorer at 2,210 points. He is 26 behind Larry Humes for No. 2 on UE’s all-time list and 69 behind career leader Colt Ryan. … The Aces are ranked No. 7 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. SIU is No. 8. … The Aces had a four-game winning streak snapped Sunday at Indiana State. UE is looking to avoid its first consecutive losses of the season. … UE assistant coach Doug Novsek holds SIU’s single-season record for 3-point field-goal percentage (.473) but is under threat from current Saluki Tyler Smithpeters (.493 so far this season). … The Aces lead the Missouri Valley Conference in field-goal percentage (.520) and field-goal percentage defense (.407).
Noting Southern Illinois: The Salukis have clinched their first winning season since 2007-08, the final year of seven consecutive postseason bids. SIU went to the NCAA tournament every year from 2002-2007, advancing to Sweet 16s in ’02 and ’07. … Smithpeters has taken 67 percent of his career shot attempts from 3-point range. … Senior guard Anthony Beane has 1,705 career points, No. 6 on SIU’s career list. His current pace would put him third on the all-time list at the end of the season. … SIU’s 18-3 start is its best since Matt Painter’s 2004 NCAA tourney team opened 24-2, including 17-0 in the MVC. … Bola Olaniyan scored a career-high 17 points Sunday against Missouri State, while Beane handed out a career-high six assists. … Junior guard Leo Vincent is the team’s second-leading scorer in MVC games (11.9 ppg).
Predictions: Evansville is favored by 2 1/2 points. Ken Pomeroy predicts a 78-77 UE win and gives the Aces a 51 percent chance of victory.