Purple Aces Basketball Heads South to Face Belmont
From Bob Pristash, Sports Information Director for the University of Evansville
The University of Evansville men’s basketball team treks south for it’s first-ever road trip to Belmont on Tuesday evening. Tip is set for 7 p.m. and will be streamed live on the Ohio Valley Conference Digital Network.
Evansville stands at 6-1 for only the second time since the 1988-89 season following an 89-62 win over IUPUI on Saturday. After swapping the lead on four occasions in the early going, UE went on an 18-0 run and never gave up the lead over the remainder of the contest.
The Ford Center has always been a shooter-friendly venue for the Aces, but this season has seen those numbers go up even more. Through three home contests, the Aces are hitting an unbelievable 62% of its attempts. Just as impressive at home has been the margin of victory, which is 35.3 points per game in the three contests. Evansville’s home turnover margin also checks in at +9.0.
Over the next three games, the Aces will be playing some of the top competition in the country. Belmont, Murray State and Ohio University are the next three contests over the next week, the trio has combined to win 376 games over the past five seasons, an average of 25.1 wins per season. Belmont and MSU have averaged 25.6 and 25.8 wins over that span, respectively.
In just 10 minutes of action versus IUPUI, redshirt sophomore David Howard tallied a career-best 16 points. His aggressiveness showed as he made 11 trips to the charity stripe, knocking down 8 of those attempts. Howard has been at his best at the Ford Center, averaging 14.5 points in UE’s three games; he has also made the most trips to the foul line at home with 17.
As a freshman, Jaylon Brown attempted 99 shots; through just seven games as a sophomore, Brown has already taken 36 attempts. Even more important is that those shots are finding the bottom of the net; Brown is shooting 58.3%, a tally that puts him 6th in the Valley. He dished out a career-best seven assists against IUPUI and currently has 20 on the season; he had 51 as a frosh.
D.J. Balentine averaged 25 points per game while leading the Aces to a pair of victories along with their second 6-1 start since 1988. He started the week with a season-high 28 points in a win over Wright State. He drained 9 out of 13 shots, all three triples and 7-of-9 free throws. He also dished out three assists as the team shot 66.7%.
Balentine followed that up with a 22-point effort versus IUPUI as UE took an 89-62 triumph. He had three more triples and assists. For the week, he posted 25 points while shooting 56.8% (17/29). He hit six out of eight triples and 10 out of 12 free throws. He was honored on Monday by College Sports Madness as its MVC Player of the Week.
Belmont has started the season by winning seven of its first eight games. The loss for the Bruins came in the opener as they fell at Wright State by a 73-70 final. One of the top shooting teams in the country, Belmont ranks in the top 60 in nearly every shooting category; their top ranking checks in at #28 as they are hitting 41% of their 3-point attempts.
Three Bruins average double figures led by Craig Bradshaw, who has posted 21.3 points per game, which is 14th in the country. Evan Bradds has notched 13.3 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds.