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Aces Winning at Home, Losing on Road

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On Monday evening at the Ford Center Evansville picked up a 72 to 46 victory over the Alabama A&M Bulldogs. Evansville’s largest lead in the game was by 37 points and the Aces ended up winning by a somewhat comfortable 26 points. Evansville coach Marty Simmons said the Aces played well in spurts throughout the game. During the game Evansville had balanced scoring. Colt Ryan had 13 points to lead the Evansville scoring attack, Ned Cox had 12, and Jaylon Moore scored 10 points. “They missed some open shots, and I didn’t feel like our intensity of our attention to detail was quite the same as what it was at Tennessee Tech the other night” Stated Simmons.

Jaylon Moore is happy with the strides Evansville is taking on the defensive side of the ball. “It was embarrassing last year to be so low in the bottom ranking in defense…That’s what we mainly focus on in practice is defense. We’re getting better at it, and we just want to keep improving.” Colt Ryan says although he was not playing much of the last three contests for Evansville he still learned a lot about the team. “The thing I noticed when I wasn’t playing was just how hard everyone else was playing. It was contagious, and I tried to tell the guys, ‘You know, we need to keep that up, even when I come back.”

D.J. Balentine has started to step up for Evansville while Colt Ryan was out of the lineup for three games. This will help the Aces down the road because Colt Ryan is a senior and he is going to graduate at the end of the season. If a younger player like Balentine, who will be a sophomore next year, can carry some of the weight of the team it will show all the other players they can contribute as well. With Evansville not having any seniors on next years roster and only one Junior in Jordan Jahr, the team could use some leadership from some younger players so the others can see that one player does not have to carry the whole team.

For the second straight game Evansville allowed 11 points to slip away from their biggest lead. In the game against Tennessee Tech Evansville let 11 points dwindle away from a 23 point lead. Although the team did have some backup players in both of these games the players could have contested the shots. During the game against the Bulldogs on Monday evening the baskets were very easy and were often on fast breaks. If the baskets were not on fast breaks Alabama A&M only had to work the ball around for 10 seconds before arriving at a shot. The substitutes could have hustled a little harder to make the Bulldogs work for this because before this point of time the team was out of their offensive sets by Evansville’s tenacious defense. There will come a time this season when Evansville completely blows a lead due to the fact the team does not hustle to prevent easy shots for the opponent.

 

On Saturday afternoon Evansville was in the thin air of Fort Collins, Colorado to face the Colorado State Rams. During the first half Colton Iverson proved to much for Evansville as Iverson would shoot over the Evansville players. D.J. Balentine kept Evansville in the game with 13 first half points and the Aces found themselves down 43 to 31 at halftime. Evansville started out the second half with a 5-0 run to cut the Colorado State lead to 7. A minute later Colt Ryan picked up his third foul and was forced to come out of the game. Balentine finished with 26 points, but this was not enough for Evansville who lost 79 to 72.

An important number was the difference in the number of rebounds. Colorado State had 41 rebounds while Evansville only had 22. Marty Simmons thought Evansville needed to be more physical when rebounding the ball. “All we talked about for three days is rebounding, and we get beat 42-21 on the glass,. I just thought Colorado State was a lot tougher – a lot stronger…That’s their identity. We knew that, we prepared, we talked, we showed film on it, and it’s just our inability to go out there and be physical and not allow them to beat us.” Simmons says a commitment to rebounding has to become an every day occurrence for Evansville. “We can block out, and we can rebound the basketball. But until we make that commitment, not just on game night – every day in practice – because that’s a huge part of what we need to be successful, we’re not going to change that. We can’t talk about it – can’t show it. You’ve got to execute it. 1 through 16 have to believe it. It’s an effort thing. It’s not about talent. Get your body on somebody and block out, be physical and pursue the basketball.” Simmons thought the results could have been different since this was Evansville’s third road game of the season. “That’s really two times where we played on the road – at Notre Dame and them – when we got kind of smacked in the mouth, and that’s disappointing. We prepared all week, had sharp practices, thought we were ready to go, and the start wasn’t good. I would certainly hope that after two times like this, we’re going to learn from it and make better starts.” Simmons said Balentine stepped up at points, but execution was still lacking for the Aces. “D.J. obviously stepped up and made some big shots for us, but even at the end there, our execution – we’ve got to execute,” Simmons said. “Guys not knowing where they’re at or what play we’re running – you can’t have that. You’ve got to know, you’ve got to execute, and when we did, guys made shots. But you’ve got to execute to get those looks, and too many times down the stretch we didn’t have that execution.” D.J. Balentine believes executing in practice will be the key for Evansville moving forward. “We need to execute in practice much more. Coach told us what they were going to do, and they did it. Our coaching staff, they scout so well, and they know what they’re going to do. We try to get prepared for it as best we can. I think what we’re going to do in this next practice coming up is just execute on mistakes and get better.”

Evansville missed another opportunity to make up for the bad loss against Buffalo two weeks ago. Also, the Aces four game winning streak was stopped by the Rams. Evansville missed out on a chance for a resume-building win, but has two more chances before the conference season next Saturday December 8 at home against Murray State at home and on the road on December 22 at Butler. First, Evansville plays Miami of Ohio at home on Wednesday, which is a game Evansville cannot look past. The Redhawks are a young team so Evansville needs to come out strong against the team and pick up a victory as well as some confidence hading into the game against Murray State. The next time Evansville goes on the road on Saturday December 22 at Butler the Aces need to pick up a victory. The sign of a team who is ready to compete for a conference championship is a team who can go on the road and pick up victories which is something Evansville has not done with consistency in recent memory.

Written by theSPORTSfeast Evansville Insider Bryce Weiler

Photo Courtesy of “The Sports Beast” James Range

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