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PEORIA, Ill. — D.J. Balentine scored 15 points to lead the University of Evansville men’s basketball team to a 36-32 halftime lead over Bradley on Saturday at Carver Arena.

Balentine scored nine straight UE points midway through the half, helping the Aces (11-4, 1-2 MVC) overcome a sloppy start. Evansville recorded seven of its 10 first-half turnovers in the first eight minutes of the game.

Omari Grier hit 6 of 8 shots to pace Bradley with 13 points. The Braves (6-10, 1-2) also got six points from Warren Jones, who was their leading scorer at 14.6 points per game before missing the last eight with a stress fracture in his foot.

Evansville finished 13 of 22 from the floor (59 percent) but just 7 of 13 from the foul line. Egidijus Mockevicius posted seven points and six rebounds, putting him on pace for his 12th double-double this season.

 

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Basic info: Evansville (11-4, 1-2 MVC) at Bradley (6-10, 1-2), 1 p.m. CST Saturday at Carver Arena in Peoria, Illinois.

Preview story: Aces look to improve defense

Radio: WUEV 91.5 FM (the game isn’t televised other than on Bradley’s All-Access video stream, which requires a subscription)

 

PROBABLE STARTERS

Evansville: Duane Gibson (6-3, So., G, 5.9 ppg, 2.7 apg); D.J. Balentine (6-2, Jr., G, 21.3 ppg, 3.8 apg); Blake Simmons (6-5, So., G/F, 8.4 ppg, 3.3 apg); Mislav Brzoja (6-6, So., G/F, 8.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg); Egidijus Mockevicius (6-10, Jr., C, 13.7 ppg, 10.6 rpg).

Bradley: Ka’Darryl Bell (6-1, Jr., G, 7.4 ppg, 2.5 apg); Tramique Sutherland (5-11, Jr., G, 12.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg); Auston Barnes (6-8, Sr., F, 11.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg); Josh Cunningham (6-7, Fr., F, 6.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg); Mike Shaw (6-8, Jr., C, 3.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg).

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Noting Evansville: Egidijus Mockevicius is tied for second in the country with 11 double-doubles. He is one away from tying the Aces’ Division I single-season record. … UE is 2-1 in road games this season, beating Miami (Ohio) and Belmont but losing in overtime at Indiana State. … The Aces rank fifth nationally in field-goal percentage (51.5) and 23rd in effective field-goal percentage (54.6), which factors in the value of a 3-pointer. However, Evansville is allowing opponents to post a 50.4 effective field-goal percentage, which ranks 245th out of 351 Division I teams. … In UE’s wins this season, opponents are shooting 40.7 percent from the field and 33.6 percent from 3-point range. In losses, Evansville’s opponents hit 49.8 percent of their attempts and 41.4 percent from 3-point range. … The Aces’ four losses this season have come by a total of nine points.

Noting Bradley: The Braves have been plagued by injuries all season, but could get leading scorer Warren Jones (14.6 ppg) back from a stress fracture in his foot Saturday. Jermaine Morgan, who has started nine games at center this season, may also return from a high ankle sprain. … Bradley leads the all-time series 25-19 and won the last meeting between the programs, 83-66 in Peoria last February. … The Braves are riding a six-game home winning streak. Those wins account for all of Bradley’s wins this season. … Bradley’s 14-man roster includes eight newcomers. … Braves freshman Josh Cunningham is a distant second behind UE’s Egidijus Mockevicius in the MVC rebounding race. Cunningham pulls down 7.0 rebounds per game. … The Braves rank last in the MVC in scoring (58.2 ppg) but allow the second-fewest points in the conference (58.9 ppg).

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Predictions: Evansville is favored by two points. Ken Pomeroy predicts a 62-58 UE win and gives the Aces a 66 percent chance of victory.

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Leftover observations, notes and quotes from Loyola’s 71-70 win over Evansville on Wednesday at the Ford Center (read my game story here).

1. From UE’s perspective, it was the second gut-wrenching loss in a row.

The Aces led by six with 2:34 left on Wednesday and led by seven with less than four minutes remaining Sunday at Indiana State, but lost both games.

“There are mistakes that we gotta clear up, and then those are games we have to win,” Aces sophomore Blake Simmons said before practice Thursday. “Other than that, we can’t dwell on the loss. We’ve got to put it behind us because we know how talented, how skilled Bradley (Evansville’s opponent on Saturday) is. If we come in there feeling sorry for ourselves, they’re gonna come in and spank us.”

2. Evansville continues to struggle at containing dribble penetration.

The game-winning play was a microcosm of Evansville’s defensive struggles for most of the game: Milton Doyle drove past his man, drew help from a second defender and dished off for an easy basket.

UE hasn’t defended quick ballhandlers well this season, often getting beat off the dribble and allowing that player to either score or set up a teammate for an open shot. That was a big reason Loyola shot 51 percent and stayed in the game despite the Aces’ 57 percent shooting.

Evansville coach Marty Simmons called the Aces’ defense on Loyola’s ball screens “pathetic” and said, “We did things four or five times in that game that we never do, and it gave up easy baskets.”

3. Duane Gibson had his most aggressive and effective offensive game of the season.

The sophomore point guard returned to UE’s starting lineup with a flourish Wednesday, hitting 6 of 10 field-goal attempts and 4 of 5 from the foul line in scoring a season-high 16 points.

Normally a pass-first player who rarely takes jump shots, Gibson looked comfortable knocking down midrange jumpers.

“(Assistant) coach (Jimmy Elgas) tells me every day to be confident in my shot,” Gibson said. “Nothing is a bad shot if I’m open so it’s just be ready and knock it down.”

Loyola paid plenty of attention to Evansville guard D.J. Balentine, often shading him with two or three defenders. Balentine didn’t force too many shots and finished with a season-high eight assists, a few of them to Gibson.

“I know (Gibson’s) man really was focused on where I was the whole night,” Balentine said. “I tell all my teammates, ‘Make them pay. Make them pay for not guarding you.’ They’re only going to guard you if you do make them pay, so whenever he scores it helps all of us and it helps me, too. I think he did a fantastic job last night.”

4. Loyola’s undersized forwards held their own in the battle with UE’s Egidijus Mockevicius.

Mockevicius finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, the 11th double-double of the season for Evansville’s 6-foot-10 center.

But the Ramblers’ smaller forwards — 6-6 Donte Ingram and 6-5 Christian Thomas — countered with a combined 19 points and nine rebounds. Thomas was a tough matchup for Mockevicius because he hit 2 of 3 shots from 3-point range and Mockevicius prefers to remain beneath the basket on defense.

And even with the size disadvantage, Loyola tied Evansville with 26 rebounds.

“We tied them in rebounding and we were pretty much 6-5 and under all game,” Ramblers coach Porter Moser said. “Being this small, we’ve either tied or outrebounded six of our last seven opponents.”

Mockevicius only attempted six shots, which is a low number considering his size and skill level. But he’s primarily used as a screener in the Aces’ offense, and it’s tough to argue with Evansville efficiency on the offensive end (57 percent shooting, 17 assists to nine turnovers).

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Freshman forward Donte Ingram scored 13 points off the bench to lead Loyola to a 39-36 halftime lead over Evansville on Wednesday at the Ford Center.

The 6-foot-6 Ingram hit 5 of 7 field-goal attempts and all three of his free-throw attempts. He was the only player on either team in double figures.

Evansville scored the game’s first six points, but it was back and forth from there. The half featured six ties and 13 lead changes.

Mislav Brzoja had three putbacks, including one that turned into a three-point play, to account for all seven of UE’s second-chance points. He had nine points to lead the Aces, while D.J. Balentine chipped in eight and Duane Gibson seven.

Loyola finished the half 16 of 30 from the floor, while Evansville shot 14 of 24.

Egidijus Mockevicius, Blake Simmons and Jaylon Brown have two fouls each for UE. Loyola’s Devon Turk and Earl Peterson also picked up two fouls.

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Basic info: Loyola (11-3, 1-1 MVC) at Evansville (11-3, 1-1 MVC), 7 p.m. CST Wednesday at the Ford Center

Preview story: Benzon’s role expands in absence of injured Wing

Radio/TV: WUEV 91.5 FM; Televised by MVC Network, Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports Midwest and ESPN3

 

PROBABLE STARTERS

Loyola: Devon Turk (6-4, Jr., G, 7.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg); Joe Crisman (6-4, Sr., G, 2.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg); Milton Doyle (6-4, So., G, 12.7 ppg, 3.9 apg); Montel James (6-7, Jr., F, 7.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg); Christian Thomas (6-5, Sr., F, 12.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg).

Evansville: Jaylon Brown (6-0, So., G, 6.0 ppg, 2.5 apg); D.J. Balentine (6-2, Jr., G, 21.6 ppg, 3.5 apg); Mislav Brzoja (6-6, So., G/F, 8.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg); Blake Simmons (6-5, So., G/F, 8.4 ppg, 2.5 apg); Egidijus Mockevicius (6-10, Jr., C, 13.8 ppg, 10.6 rpg).

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Noting Loyola: Milton Doyle is the reigning MVC Freshman of the Year and MVC Newcomer of the Year. He considered sitting out this season after tearing his labrum, but rested and rehabilitated the injury instead. … The Ramblers play 10 players 12-plus minutes per game. … Loyola is in its second year of MVC membership. It previously competed in the Horizon League. … The Ramblers have already exceeded their 10-win total from last season. They were picked to finish last in the 10-team MVC in the conference preseason poll. … Loyola hasn’t won a road MVC game in its one-plus seasons in the league. … Loyola ranks first in the MVC in 3-point field-goal percentage (40.1) and 3-point field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 28.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Noting Evansville: D.J. Balentine ranks fourth in NCAA Division I in scoring at 21.6 points per game. … The Aces lead the MVC in team scoring average (76.9 ppg) and assists per game (18.1). … Egidijus Mockevicius has 10 double-doubles this season, two off the Aces’ Division I record of 12 set by Richie Johnson in 1984-85. Mockevicius’ 10.6 rebounds per game ranks ninth in the country. .. Blake Simmons has scored in double figures in five of six games. … The Aces were ranked 10th in this week’s CollegeInsider mid-major top 25. Other MVC teams on the list include Wichita State (2) and Northern Iowa (3).

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Predictions: VegasInsider lists Evansville as a six-point favorite. Ken Pomeroy predicts a 65-62 UE win and gives the Aces a 62 percent chance of victory.

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Some leftover notes, quotes and observations from Evansville loss at Indiana State yesterday (you can ready my game story here):

The turning point: Evansville seemed to be somewhat in control after Mislav Brzoja buried a 3-pointer with 3:56 left in regulation to put the Aces on top 68-61.

But ISU’s Justin Gant responded with a jumper, UE missed a shot and then Aces center Egidijus Mockevicius picked up a silly foul trying to pry the ball from Jake Kitchell after the defensive rebound. With the Sycamores in the double bonus, Kitchell sank both shots to quickly pull ISU back within three points, helping them eventually force overtime.

That foul on Mockevicius was not only a bad foul at the time for UE — because it allowed trailing ISU to get two easy points with the clock stopped — but it also hurt the Aces later when he fouled out in overtime. Jaylon Moore replaced him off the bench after barely playing in regulation and missed four free throws in overtime.

— On the positive side for UE, Brzoja had perhaps his best game of the season. With Adam Wing sidelined the past three games with a strained quadriceps, Brzoja has gone from an important bench player who played about 22 minutes per game to a starter who rarely comes out.

Against Indiana State, he recorded a team-high 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. He also finished with three assists and no turnovers, and he’s prone to committing turnovers at times. He took a couple of wild, off-balance shots, but you can’t take much away from a 7-for-11 performance. When Brzoja took his time Sunday, he almost always converted the play.

— Speaking of stepping up in Wing’s absence, Christian Benzon continued to be the one guy who wasn’t playing much before Wing’s injury that is now filling in with some minutes. The 6-foot-4 sophomore played 12 minutes, contributing five points, three rebounds, an assist and a block.

Benzon made a couple of energy plays that helped out the Aces: a tip-in over a defender and a block where he flew across the lane from the weakside and prevented a layup. After going some games without even leaving the bench earlier this season, Benzon is proving to be a serviceable substitute while Wing is out.

— After going eight straight games with 20 or more points, UE star D.J. Balentine was held below that number for the second game in a row, both in Missouri Valley Conference play. He had 15 points Sunday on 4 of 14 shooting, though he did get to the foul line often and sunk 7 of 8 from there.

At least in these first two MVC games, it seems defenders are sticking with Balentine a bit better and preventing him from getting easy looks. Marty Simmons mentioned after the Northern Iowa game that good shots on the offensive end will be tougher for every team to come by due to better scouting and increased familiarity between the teams. It may take more than one or two good passes in a row to find some space, Simmons said.

On Sunday, 6-foot-2 junior Devonte Brown chased Balentine around for the majority of the game.

“He’s a really, really good player. Really good scorer,” Brown said. “You have to try to make him uncomfortable. … You have to make him do a few things in the game that he normally wouldn’t — maybe hesitate and not take a shot that he normally would.”

Balentine proved over the course last season that he’s capable of leading the league in scoring despite being the focus of every defense, so I expect the 20-point games to return rather soon.

 

 

 

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TERRE HAUTE — A balanced, efficient offensive effort led the Indiana State University men’s basketball team to a 31-30 halftime lead Sunday in a Missouri Valley Conference matchup versus Evansville at Hulman Center.

Tre Bennett paced the Sycamores with seven points, one of five Sycamores with at least five points. ISU finished the half 13 of 23 from the field (56.5 percent), but committed 10 turnovers.

Meanwhile, Indiana State held Evansville’s leading scorers D.J. Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius to a combined eight points. Blake Simmons led the Aces with seven points and Jaylon Brown added six.

The half featured six ties and 13 lead changes, and neither team led by more than five. Evansville didn’t score for the final 3 minutes, 10 seconds of the half.

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Basic info: Evansville (11-2, 1-0 MVC) at Indiana State (5-8, 1-0 MVC), 12:30 p.m. CST at Hulman Center in Terre Haute.

Preview story: UE’s Balentine continues brilliant play despite death of grandmother

TV/Radio: ESPN3; WUEV 91.5 FM

 

PROBABLE STARTERS

Evansville: Jaylon Brown (6-0, So., G, 5.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg); D.J. Balentine (6-2, Jr., G, 22.1 ppg, 3.6 apg); Blake Simmons (6-5, So., G/F, 8.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg); Mislav Brzoja (6-6, So., G/F, 7.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg); Egidijus Mockevicius (6-10, Jr., C, 13.8 ppg, 10.4 rpg).

Indiana State: Khristian Smith (6-6, Jr., F, 12.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg); Justin Gant (6-9, Sr., F, 8.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg); Brenton Scott (6-1, Fr., G, 10.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg); Devonte Brown (6-2, Jr., G, 12.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg); T.J. Bell (6-8, So., F, 3.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg).

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Key question: Can the Aces continue their improved play on the road?

Evansville finished just 3-11 in road contests in 2013-14, but has fared well away from the Ford Center so far this season. The Aces are 2-0 on the road and 2-1 in neutral-site games.

Now that UE is in conference play — when games are more intense and the opponents are more familiar — we’ll see whether this team continues to play tough in away games or reverts to the form of last season.

NOTES

Indiana State leads the all-time series 86-75 and has won three consecutive meetings between the programs. … The Sycamores have made five straight trips to the postseason, but are in jeopardy of ending that streak with their 5-8 start. … UE’s win over No. 23 Northern Iowa on Thursday marked the Aces’ fifth win over a ranked opponent in six seasons. … Evansville’s Adam Wing remains sidelined with a strained quadriceps. … UE’s Egidijus Mockevicius has nine double-doubles in 13 games this season. The Aces’ single-season record is held by Richie Johnson, who notched 12 in 1984-85. … Mockevicius ranks 10th in NCAA Division I in rebounding average (10.4) and third in field-goal percentage (65.3) among players who have five or more made field goals per game. … Balentine’s 22.1 points per game ranks fourth in the nation.

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Indiana State forward Khristian Smith had the tweet of the week regarding this matchup:

Predictions: VegasInsider lists Evansville as a 3 1/2-point favorite. Ken Pomeroy predicts a 68-64 UE win and gives the Aces a 68 percent chance of victory.

 

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Some leftover observations, notes and quotes from Evansville’s win over No. 23 Northern Iowa on Thursday. You can read my game story, view our photo gallery and see video comments from UE head coach Marty Simmons here.

First, some observations:

1. Evansville continues to be a strong second-half team.

The Aces outscored UNI 32-19 after halftime. UE has now outscored every opponent but Coppin State in the second half this season.

When I asked Simmons about this trend earlier in the season, he said he didn’t know what to attribute that to.

“We’d like to be a 40-minute team,” he said.

I think some locker-room adjustments — and an overall sense of urgency — have contributed to the Aces’ strong play in second halves this season. Most noticeably, the switch to 2-3 zone against Ohio and Alabama State allowed UE to turn those games around.

2. The Aces’ rotation tightened significantly in their first MVC game.

Four UE players played 35 or more minutes Thursday — Mislav Brzoja (35), Blake Simmons (37), Egidijus Mockevicius (37) and D.J. Balentine (39). Balentine may have played all 40 if he didn’t have to go to the bench briefly in the second half after taking a shot to his groin.

The absence of Adam Wing — who averaged 29 minutes per game before missing the past two contests with a strained quadriceps — is a major reason for that, but the Aces were able to play their regulars almost exclusively because they stayed out of foul trouble.

Christian Benzon is the main player receiving more minutes since Wing went down. He played 13 last night, contributing one point, two rebounds and a steal. Benzon holds his own on the defensive end and on the boards and can attack the basket, but is less of a shooting threat than Wing.

3. Evansville won the game on the glass.

Northern Iowa was the more efficient team — shooting 44.2 percent compared to Evansville’s 32.7 percent — but the Aces were the more aggressive team. UE outrebounded the Panthers 36-27, including 14-3 on the offensive boards. Evansville also held a 19-6 advantage in made free throws, some of which came off second-chance opportunities.

“On their home floor, to hold them in the low 30s (in field-goal percentage), we did a pretty good job,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. “We did not rebound well enough to finish it off.”

Mockevicius posted 12 points and 13 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.

“I didn’t do a good enough job of clearing (Mockevicius) from the lane,” said Northern Iowa forward Seth Tuttle, who had 18 points and five rebounds. “He ate us alive there for a little bit.”

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Here are some more quotes that didn’t make it into my game story:

Tuttle, on the Aces’ improvement in the second half: “They did a good job amping their intensity and energy level. … They just stepped up their game and we weren’t able to answer that. We never really got our run going in the second half.”

Balentine, on how he got free more often in the second half, when he scored 13 of his team-high 17 points: “The coaches told me to keep cutting. … It’s tough to guard me cutting three or four times, and my teammates did a great job of finding me in spots where I could score.”

Jaylon Brown, on going 4-for-4 from the foul line in the closing seconds to clinch the win: “I had D.J. chatting in my ear and I knew I had to knock ‘em down. I took my time.”

Marty Simmons, on the flow of the game: “We were really stagnant in the first half; we weren’t cutting, we weren’t screening. They’re a terrific defensive team. I thought we had a little better movement, a little better execution in the second half. They’re a gritty team, and I thought our guys showed some grit.”

Simmons, on Evansville struggling to score in the first half: “They (the Panthers) scout and prepare as well as anybody. Our thing is and we’ve got to get better with this, because that’s the way it is in league play. You’ve got to get the ball reversed and you’ve got to give more continuous effort throughout the possession. You’re not going to get many good looks off one cut and one pass.”

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Wes Washpun recorded seven points and four rebounds off the bench for Northern Iowa, sparking the 23rd-ranked Panthers to a 30-20 halftime lead over Evansville on Thursday at the Ford Center.

The 6-foot-1 guard scored all of his points during a 13-0 run that pushed the Panthers’ lead to 24-10 with 5:24 left.

Evansville entered the contest shooting 52.7 percent from the field — the third-best mark in the nation — but hit just 7 of 23 (30 percent) field-goal attempts. The Aces missed all seven of their 3-point attempts, including four by Mislav Brzoja.

Egidijus Mockevicius led the Aces with eight points and seven rebounds and Duane Gibson added five points. D.J. Balentine, the Missouri Valley Conference’s leading scorer at 22.5 points per game, recorded four first-half points on 2-for-7 shooting.

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Basic info: No. 23 Northern Iowa (11-1) at Evansville (10-2), 7 p.m. CST Thursday at the Ford Center

Preview story: Aces open MVC play against ranked Northern Iowa

Radio/TV: WUEV 91.5 FM; game streaming live at ESPN3.

 

PROBABLE STARTERS

Northern Iowa: Deon Mitchell (6-1, Sr., G, 6.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg); Seth Tuttle (6-8, Sr., F, 14.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg); Matt Bohannon (6-4, Jr., G, 5.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg); Marvin Singleton (6-6, Sr., F, 4.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg); Jeremy Morgan (6-5, So., G, 4.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg).

Evansville: Jaylon Brown (6-0, So., G, 5.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg); D.J. Balentine (6-2, Jr., G, 22.5 ppg, 3.7 apg); Mislav Brzoja (6-6, So., G/F, 8.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg); Blake Simmons (6-5, So., G/F, 8.5 ppg, 2.4 apg); Egidijus Mockevicius (6-10, Jr., C, 14.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg).

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Some notes:

— UNI leads the MVC in scoring defense (58.1 points per game) and field-goal percentage defense (39.5 percent). Evansville leads the league in scoring (79.2 ppg) and ranks first in the MVC and third nationally in field-goal percentage (52.7).

— The Aces’ 10-2 start is its best since the 1988-89 season.

— UNI will be the fifth ranked opponent to come into the Ford Center. UE is 2-2 in the previous contests, with the wins coming over Creighton and Wichita State. The Aces are 15-48 all-time against ranked opponents.

— Evansville’s Adam Wing will miss his second consecutive game with a strained muscle in his right quadriceps. Coach Marty Simmons said Monday there is no timetable yet for his return. Wing is still walking with a bit of a limp and hasn’t practiced since UE’s win over Alabama State Dec. 21.

— UNI is ranked No. 2 in the CollegeInsider mid-major top 25, while Evansville is ninth.

— The Panthers’ Seth Tuttle has started all 113 games of his career. He is one of three active Division I players with 1,300 points, 700 rebounds who has made at least 20 3-pointers and made more than 50 percent of his field-goal attempts. Tuttle ranks 38th among active NCAA scorers with 1,381 career points.

— UE’s D.J. Balentine is the reigning MVC Player of the Week after scoring a season-high 32 points against Coppin State on Sunday. Balentine has scored 20 or more points in eight straight games.

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Predictions: VegasInsider lists Northern Iowa as a 3 1/2-point favorite. Ken Pomeroy predicts a 64-60 UNI win and gives the Panthers a 65 percent chance of victory.

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After leading by 19 early in the second half, a turnover-prone University of Evansville men’s basketball team barely edged Coppin State on Sunday. You can read my game story here.

As always, I’m dumping some leftover notes and quotes on this blog.

Since there were a lot of statistical notes related to the game, let’s start of with a by-the-numbers rundown:

1: The number of times that Evansville (10-2) has been outscored in the second half this season after Coppin State held a 50-40 edge after the intermission. That’s also the number of wins the Eagles (1-12) own on the season.

4: Following his 13-point performance, UE sophomore Blake Simmons has scored in double figures in four straight games, the longest such streak of his career.

8: The number of consecutive games in which Aces junior D.J. Balentine has scored 20 or more points, and also the number of double-doubles for center Egidijus Mockevicius on the season. Balentine’s 20-point game streak is the longest since current head coach Marty Simmons recorded nine in a row in 1988. Richie Johnson set Evansville’s Division I double-double record with 12 during the 1984-85 season.

10: The Aces’ 10-2 nonconference record gives them 10 wins before Jan. 1 for the first time in program history.

16: The amount of minutes played by UE sophomore Christian Benzon, a season high. He took a lot of the minutes that were freed up due to starting forward Adam Wing’s strained quadriceps injury, and posted four points, four rebounds, one assist and one turnover.

21: The number of turnovers committed by Evansville, a season high. Fourteen of those came in the second half.

26: The number of points CSU scored off UE’s turnovers.

32: D.J. Balentine’s season-high point total. Balentine boosted his scoring average to 22.5 points per game, the fifth-highest mark in Division I.

50: UE scored 50 points in the paint, helping offset the disparity beyond the 3-point arc. Coppin State hit 12 3s compared to Evansville’s four.

——

Now, some quotes:

Coppin State coach Michael Grant, on his team getting back into the game after trailing by 19 early in the second half: “It’s all about guys being able to step up and make plays. That’s what I thought our guys did; they competed, they played hard, they really got up in (the Aces), they made them take tough shots and we got them to turn the ball over a little bit more.”

Marty Simmons, on Coppin State’s second-half run: “Give Coppin State a lot of credit. They didn’t quit. They increased the speed, but we really helped that. We didn’t take very good care of the basketball. That led to a lot of the easy baskets. We can’t play that way.”

Blake Simmons, on trying to replace Wing, and Benzon’s contributions off the bench: “Adam’s a big part of our team. He’s a leader, he brings a lot of energy, he’s a guy that can bring us together in tough times, so obviously not one guy can replace him. Benzon came in and he did a great job. Benzon’s a guy that he’s really active defensively. He gets out and runs, he’s an athletic guy. He does a lot of good stuff for us.”

Marty Simmons, on playing without Wing: “Teams deal with injuries all the time. I just felt bad for him. He’s a hard worker and he loves to play. We talked about this as a team, the things he brings and how each and every guy has to step it up a little bit and during that (second-half) stretch, we didn’t. That’s where we gotta get better. That’s what a team does when somebody’s out. It’s not just one guy — it’s a group of guys that talk more, block out better, do the little things a little bit better and we didn’t act it out. That’s something that we’ll talk about more and we’ll work on in practice.”

D.J. Balentine, on turning the page and getting ready for the Missouri Valley Conference opener Thursday against No. 23 Northern Iowa: “We know we didn’t play our best basketball, but Coppin State played really well. We got a tough one coming up Thursday. We all know it’s a big game, a big way to start conference off. I think we’re really excited about it.”