Evansville -5 at Illinois State O/U 138.5
The Redbirds are not primed to defend Evansville’s motion offense effectively this evening, bad news against a team that ranks #3 nationally, hitting 52.3% of their shots from the floor this season while leading the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring. Illinois State is gassed, playing their fifth game in 13 days. Guard DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell: “It may affect us a little bit offensively because we could be tired chasing all those screens and shooting the gap and all that stuff."
Illinois State has clearly been dealing with fatigue issues in their last few ball games. They’ve blown double digit leads in each of their last two contests, allowing 49 second half points to Indiana State and 45 second half points to Southern Illinois. Two different Redbirds set career highs in points against Southern Illinois Head coach Dan Muller: “Fatigue is causing us not only to give up some baskets, but we've fouled down the stretch in both games way too much. We've played guys a lot of minutes in the second half and last 10 minutes of games because of injury, foul trouble or guys not playing well."
And injuries are clearly a factor for the Redbirds in this one. Leading shot blocker, seven footer David Ndiaye, is out with a stress fracture in his foot. Forward Roland Griffin has missed the last three games with a sprained toe. For a team that lacks low post depth, these are impact injuries!
Evansville has arguably the best inside/outside duo in the conference. Senior ig man Egidijus Mockevicius has 14 double doubles this season, tied for third in the nation. Head coach Marty Simmons, talking about his veteran low post stud: "I just think more than anything it's experience, maturity, confidence. He has been that way every year here. He's gotten better. His effort has been outstanding." Meanwhile, senior point guard DJ Ballantine is pouring in more than 20 points per game while leading the team in assists.
The Purple Aces are in stellar current form, winning eight times in their last nine games, the lone loss coming by only three points (as +10 underdogs) at mighty Wichita State. We’ve seen them win by margin on the road at Missouri State and Fresno in recent weeks, part of their 5-1 ATS run in their last six lined contests. Expect more of the same tonight!