Evansville Purple Aces vs. Indiana State Sycamores - 1/4/14
Indiana State Sycamores (10-3) at Evansville Purple Aces (7-7)
College Basketball: Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm (Ford Center)
The Line: Evansville Purple Aces +3.5 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds
The Indiana State Sycamore fans have even more to be excited about with a National TV appearance (ESPNU) on Saturday evening when they travel to play the Evansville Aces in a Missouri Valley Conference game.
The Sycamores got off to the start they hoped for as they downed Loyola (Chi.) in the MVC opener on New Year’s Day. They were a little colder from the floor, but their grittiness allowed them to pull away in the 2nd half. They are still hitting at nearly 50% from the field with a 42% 3-point shooting average. Balanced scoring has not been an issue for them, with the starting three averaging between 12 and 14 points per game, while 4 other Sycamores tally between 5 and 8 ppg. You won’t find many teams as unselfish as Indiana State and they really do a nice job working the ball around for high percentage shots. There are no legitimate rebounders on the team, but they get it done with all 5 guys contributing on the glass to give them a +1.7 rebounding edge vs. their opponents. All-Valley point guard Jake Odum (Senior) continues to be rock solid and is the heart and soul of this team and his heddy play and confidence rub off onto his teammates.
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The Aces from Evansville got pummeled in their Valley opener at a very good Drake team. They were only down by 4 at halftime, but could not stop the Bulldogs on defense. They will need to key in on defense more in this match-up because they are not a team that will be able to keep up scoring-wise, though they hit about 47% from the field – that’s due in large part to their leading scorer, sophomore guard DJ Balentine (23 ppg). Nobody scored more than 10 points in the last game, and seem to rely on Balentine having a stellar night to win. Evansville has been involved in very close losses this year aside from their last showing. They lost by 2 to both Murray State and Xavier.
Indiana State will be in the running for the MVC title…well, provided that Wichita State has a hiccup or two along the way, but surely look like a top 3 team in the league. The Aces play tough against any Valley team historically that come to town and will likely hang with the Sycamores in this one, but Indiana State is the better, deeper, hotter team. It will be pretty close I think, but maybe just not enough for Evansville to cover the small spread.