What to Expect: Evansville

  • 11/25/2013 10:54 am in

Following a split of two games last week in New York City at Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Classic, the 5-1 Hoosiers return to Assembly Hall on Tuesday evening for a meeting with Missouri Valley Conference foe Evansville.

The game will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network and also on the IU radio network (XM 192/Sirius 136):

Nearly 20 percent of Indiana’s regular season schedule is complete and the results thus far have landed just about on par with expectations. The Hoosiers have dominated lesser competition, squeaked out an early scare against a team with NCAA tournament experience and lost a tight game to a more experienced UConn club on a neutral court.

Seven non-conference games remain and on paper, Evansville is the third toughest of those contests behind Syracuse (Dec. 3) and Notre Dame (Dec. 14). Just how good the Purple Aces are, however, is up for debate.

Evansville is 5-0, is ranked No. 116 in the Pomeroy ratings, has the nation’s 22nd most efficient offense and the best 3-point shooting percentage in the land. However, the competition level hasn’t exactly been up to par. Two of the five wins have come against non-Division I teams and Evansville’s lone road test was an 84-78 win at IUPUI (No. 275 in Pomeroy).

With that said, Evansville can put up points and Indiana can’t afford to look ahead to next week’s showdown with Syracuse in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.


Four Purple Aces enter Tuesday’s game with double figure scoring averages, but one stands alone: sophomore guard D.J. Balentine (pictured). Through Sunday’s games, Balentine is fourth in the country in scoring at 29.6 points per game.

A former standout at Kokomo and Indiana all-star, Balentine is shouldering the scoring load after Evansville lost Colt Ryan to graduation. The 6-foot-2 guard boasts an effective field goal percentage of 70.3 in 36 minutes per game and is getting to the line at a rapid rate with 54 free throws attempted thus far.

Sophomore guard Adam Wing joins Balentine in the Evansville backcourt and he’s also off to a hot shooting start. After a debut season as a role player, Wing is now getting 32 minutes a night, is averaging 13.6 points and has an effective field goal percentage of 77.4, which is good for 11th nationally.

A third guard, freshman Duane Gibson, also starts and has attempted more free throws (33) than field goals (25). Through five games, Gibson is averaging seven assists per game and has just 11 turnovers.

Freshman forward Blake Simmons, the son of Evansville coach Marty Simmons, starts in the frontcourt alongside sophomore Edidijus Mockevicius, who missed Saturday’s win over Anderson University with flu-like symptoms. An undersized four-man, Simmons can step out and shoot from the perimeter. Mockevicius is foul prone, but capable of blocking shots (11.1 block percentage as a freshman) and also grabbing offensive boards (12.7 OR% as a freshman).

Junior forward Ryan Sawvell, a 6-foot-8 forward, provides frontcourt depth off the bench, and freshman guard Jaylon Brown, a Fishers product, is a poor shooter (eFG% of 37), but can be disruptive defensively because of his quickness.

This won’t happen often this season, but Pomeroy actually ranks the Purple Aces (347th nationally) as less experienced than the Hoosiers (324th).


These numbers won’t hold up for much longer, but Evansville is one of the nation’s best shooting teams so far. The Purple Aces are shooting 54.8 percent on 3s (1st nationally), 56.6 percent on 2s (24th) and 81.6 percent on free throws (6th). They’ve also posted a ridiculous free throw rate, defined as FTA/FGA, of 67.3, which ranks 7th nationally.

Combine those numbers with the fact that Evansville isn’t turning the ball over and you get an offensive than ranks 22nd nationally in efficiency.

The other side of the ball, however, has been a different story.

As good as Evansville has been offensively, they’ve been extremely soft defensively. Opponents are scoring nearly 1.08 points per possession. They’ve allowed an effective field goal percentage of 58.3 (336th nationally) and two opponents have been non-Division I. In the post, Evansville is putting up basically no resistance as the opposition is hitting 63.3 of their attempts at the rim.

Despite those woeful numbers, Indiana has already faced three teams (Chicago State, LIU Brooklyn and Samford) who have been even worse defensively. The Hoosiers shouldn’t have much of a problem putting up points, but the defense, which enters Tuesday’s game ranked 26th in the Pomeroy efficiency ratings, will be tested against an offense that’s been on fire thus far.


Regardless of the level of its competition thus far, there’s no disputing that Evansville can put the ball in the basket. They’ve got the nation’s fourth leading scorer and are averaging 90.6 points per game.

From a pace perspective, the Purple Aces have played three of five games with 70 or more possessions, but will likely try to slow the game down and force Indiana to play half court defense. The alternative is attempting to run against an IU team that clearly outclasses them from a talent perspective.

We’ll soon find out whether Evansville’s offense can perform against the length and athleticism of Indiana. If it can, the Hoosiers could be in for a high scoring, back-and-forth battle.

If not, it’ll be tough for Evansville’s defense to string enough stops together to keep this one close in one of the country’s toughest places to win. The Pomeroy prediction likes the Hoosiers, 89-76, with an 86 percent chance for win No. 6 of the young season.


Established: 1854
Students: 3,050
Notable athletics alumni: Jerry Sloan

(Photo credit: Eric Francis, Getty Images)

All tempo-free stats from KenPom.com.

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  • TJ21

    Good question, but if he plays 27+ minutes the over / under on turnovers and bad shots combined is 11……….

  • HoosierCraig

    In position to win big game at the Garden … how will we respond? Great to see the team come together. Need to develop more confidence and poise, which we will do.

  • TomJameson

    Forgot to add, CTC reminded me in his preview, but UE doesn’t “hunt” the three, they take what is given. I think that is the difference.

  • 5_Banners

    So I guess this is how it’s going to be this year. Hollowell is the new whipping boy for the 2013-2014 season. Six games in and it’s already getting old.

  • 5_Banners

    Well said. Perspective people.

  • 5_Banners

    Yea, I don’t like that he’s our “back-up PG” either. I just don’t think he’s suited for that. But I want him starting because he’s a very talented player despite the silly turnovers.

    He’s shown some bright moments in some games already. Six games in people…

  • 5_Banners

    Speaking of the vaunted Syracuse, struggled to beat Minnesota last night who is picked to have a rough year in the Big Ten.

    I’ve watched 2-3 games so far of Syracuse and I’m still waiting to be impressed.

  • 5_Banners

    I don’t think they’ll over look them. But who on UE will guard Yogi, Vonleh, Sheehey, or Williams?

    It goes both ways. I think Ballentine will score but like you said our depth will win out…among other things.

  • MillaRed

    When we fed him in the post, and it bounced off his hands, resulting in a turnover, fast break and shooting foul on JH, I def had my wtf face on.

    I’m like, you just did 3 bad things in 5 seconds…..wtf face.

  • kbb247

    Rebounding, Turnovers, and Defense. If they do those three things well, they will have a shot to win every ballgame. IMO that is what this team needs to focus on. The are going to be ugly on offense in several games this year, and a highlight reel in others. Usually when a team loses they do not do at least one of those three things. UCONN game we rebounded well enough to win, and the defense played well enough to win, but the Turnovers killed us. Shooting well is out of your control (you can help it by taking the right shot), but you can always control your defense, turnovers, and rebounding. IMO those three things are mostly about effort and being mentally prepared to play. Your defensive schemes also factor into defense as well.

  • Ole Man

    One more thing I’d like to see is Yogi more focused and in control. If he continues to take 34% of our shots, rather than nurturing and guiding this young team along, then we are in for a long season.
    For an example, see the ITH breakdown of the play with 22 seconds to go: Will wide open in the corner and Yogi throws up an off-balance prayer.
    Just an opinion.

  • Ole Man

    Doesn’t matter who’s guarding them if Yogi doesn’t begin to do a better job of distributing the ball.

  • Ole Man

    JH should be tried as the Sixth man.
    Think this takes the pressure off him and is a great use of his energy.

  • ForeverIU

    I’m optimistic about Jeremy tonight. Big defensive night and a few threes, seeing the glass half full. Go HOOSIERS!