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Aces Host Illinois State On Wednesday

February 12, 2014
HOOSIER SPORTS 365



EVANSVILLE PRESS

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Over the next two weeks, the University of Evansville men's basketball team will play four out of five games at the Ford Center in a stretch that begins on Wednesday as the Purple Aces welcome Illinois State for a 7:05 p.m. contest.
 
It is another Mustache Mania Game as all fans sporting a real or fake mustache receive a $4 ticket discount.  There are also exclusive $5 ticket specials via UE's social media sites.  At the half, all will be entertained by Trix Stix. 
 
Evansville got off to a quick start at Bradley, going up 6-2 early on, but the Braves hit 10 out of 12 shots at one point as they cruised to an 83-66 victory on Sunday afternoon at Carver Arena; UE cut a 7-point halftime deficit to just four in the opening moments of the second half before Bradley responded with a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach. 
 
The Braves shot 50.8% in the game; this season, UE is 1-4 when the opposition hits 50% or more of their attempts.  With 16 assists on 21 made shots in the game, the Aces have registered helpers on 62% of their buckets this season; that total is 11th in the nation.
 
The leading rebounder in conference play added 14 more to his total against Bradley as Egidijus Mockevicius has posted an average of 8.8 boards per game in league play while finishing in double figures on five occasions.
 
He has also registered double-doubles in four MVC outings. Interestingly enough, the Aces are
1-3 in his four MVC double-doubles while going 1-4 when he has grabbed 10 or more caroms.   Mockevicius' 14 boards bumped his MVC average to 8.8 per game, just ahead of Seth Tuttle for the league lead; he is the only player in the MVC to rank in the top four in both offensive and defensive rebounds.
 
A 5/12 day from the floor coupled with a perfect 7-7 day at the charity stripe gave Blake Simmons a new career high with 18 points at Bradley.  Simmons has come into his own in MVC play, posting 10.4 points per game while posting double figures in seven of his last ten games.  Standing at 9.6 PPG, Simmons has established himself as the top true freshman shooter in the conference.
 
Illinois State sits at 13-11 overall and are 6-6 in MVC action following a 79-69 loss at Loyola on Sunday; it has been a different story when comparing their conference performances at home and on the road as ISU is 5-1 at home and 1-5 away from Redbird Arena in 12 conference  games.  A strong defensive squad, Illinois State holds opponents to just 42.7% shooting this season, second in the league behind just Wichita State.
 
Behind freshman Reggie Lynch's league high 2.4 shot blocks per game, the Redbirds are second in the conference as a team, posting 4.4.  Lynch's average ranks in the top 50 in the nation while his shooting efforts of 59.5% this season are second in the Valley behind Egidijus Mockevicius. 
 
Junior Daishon Knight is the top scorer and rebounder this season for ISU, standing at 12.5 points and 4.5 caroms per contest this season; he scored 16 in the first meeting, but his trey with eight seconds left in regulation was the dagger for Illinois State as it sent the game to overtime before they clinched the victory.
 
Fellow junior Bobby Hunter leads the Redbirds in scoring in conference games at 11.8 points per game while shooting 51.7% from the floor and 35.9% from outside.  The first meeting this season in Normal saw sophomore Zach Lofton lead the Redbird offense with 21 points on 6-of-17 shooting.
 
In the first meeting this season, the Redbirds hit a game tying triple in the final seconds before escaping with a 79-78 overtime win at Redbird Arena on Jan. 15.  With the win, Illinois State took a 31-17 lead in the overall series while winning 19 out of 23 home games; the Aces hold a 12-10 lead in games played in Evansville and have won the last three, including a 73-67 win on Feb. 26, 2011, which was the last game at Roberts Stadium.


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