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UE scored a Ford Center record and season-high number of points in its 94-68 win Wednesday over visiting Miami (Ohio). The Aces were led by four players in double figures: Colt Ryan (18 points), D.J. Balentine (15), Ned Cox (15) and Troy Taylor (11).

Ryan on the win, UE’s fifth in six games: “I was a little surprised that we didn’t get pressed a little more throughout the game. We had prepared for them pressing for 40 minutes. I think the reason why that was, the first few times they did press we broke it and got pretty easy looks at the basket. And that’s what you’ve got to do whenever any team tries to run and jump against you – turn it into easy baskets for your team.”

Balentine scored 12 of his points during a first-half run that put the Aces up double digits for good. “When D.J. came in, he gave us a real big spark there – hit quite a few 3s in a row and really got us going,” Ryan said. “After that, we just kind of took off from there.”

The secret is out as far as Balentine scoring, so he’s finding different ways to get open. “In the halfcourt they’re going to try and pressure me a lot,” he said. “That’s why I look to score in transition a lot. When they miss, it leads to offense for me, just coming down, pulling up and shooting 3s.”

And the freshman from Kokomo standout has been able to learn from Ryan, also an Indiana All-Star out of high school. “I look up to him a lot and see how hard he works,” Balentine said. “He teaches me a lot…(It’s) just how easy he scores – the way he cuts and moves and he’s double teamed but still scores. It’s amazing how he’s the focus of every defense but still scores 20 points a game…I’m used to guarding him, so now I’m on his team and get to watch him, play with him and see how he does it.”

UE connected on 14 of 18 3-point attempts, with eight makes from beyond the arc coming from Ryan and Balentine. “I do see similarities” between Balentine and Ryan, Simmons said, “probably more with just the confidence factor. Both are very confident players. Colt was a very confident player as a freshman, and he’s only improved on that in his four years here.”

The Aces had 10 players score, something that’s becoming more and more common. “I think the chemistry on this basketball team is really good amongst all of them,” said coach Marty Simmons. “I think they really like being together. I think they like it on the practice floor and during games. But I also think they like each other off the court. A lot of times, when they have free time, they’re together – which I think is good as a coach. Obviously they care for each other enough to spend time that’s theirs together.”

After Colorado State out-rebounding the Aces by almost 20, they turned around and did the same thing to Miami, claiming a 38-13 edge on the boards. “We didn’t emphasize rebounding a lot in the last couple days of practice, but coach Simmons put a huge emphasis on being the most aggressive team,” Ryan said. “I think that kind of goes hand in hand with rebounding, because rebounding isn’t about how talented you are but your effort and aggression.”

Added Simmons: “That was kind of our thing coming back from Colorado State. We knew these guys were going to press, run and jump and do some things. We wanted to attack, and I really felt like for the most part we did that.”

Simmons played eight players at least 14 minutes, but not among those were sophomores Ryan Sawvell (seven minutes) and Jordan Jahr (one minute): “We just evaluate how guys play through practice and in games. They’ve got to just keep working. They’re both guys who we’re counting on and we think can be contributors to our team. I don’t believe in doghouses. You’ve got 16 guys who are competing every day in practice, and we as a coaching staff do our very best to find the right combinations. By no means am I an expert at doing that, but everything is based on chemistry, attitude, the way guys play in practice,  the way they go hard in games, matchups – there’s just so many variables that factor in.”

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