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Evansville Drops Valley Opener

Creighton Bump

On Saturday evening Evansville went on the road to Creighton for its first Missouri Valley Conference game of the season. Last year when Evansville journeyed to Creighton the game was an overtime thriller. The Blue Jays prevailed 93 to 92 with Colt Ryan scoring his career high of 43 points. The Aces had a tough challenge all evening as Evansville had to square off against All American candidate Doug McDermott. At the beginning of the first half Evansville forced Creighton into missing three pointers. However, as the half progressed Creighton hit more three pointers, stretching out the Blue Jays lead. Last year when Evansville defeated Creighton, the Blue Jays just hit four three’s. Evansville was on a 6-0 run to cut the Creighton run to 31-20 when Doug McDermott stepped up and hit a three pointer. Evansville was trailing at the half 45 to 34.

Evansville started out the second half with baskets by Troy Taylor and Colt Ryan, then, once again, Creighton answered with yet another made three to stop Evansville’s run. Evansville was down by 17 with 11 and a half minutes remaining in the game. Evansville needs to start making shots on the road to pick up victories, which is something the Aces need to do to in this conference. Unfortunately on this evening, Evansville was unable to achieve the road triumph as Creighton was victorious by a final score of 87-70. Once again Colt Ryan scored 25 points for the Aces while Troy Taylor recorded the second triple-double in Evansville basketball history.

Marty Simmons thought a 19 to 3 run by Creighton was key in the Blue Jays opening a large lead early in the game.  “They just came out, and they punched us right in the nose. We never really responded.  When you play good teams, you’re going to get exposed. Too many times we had breakdowns defensively, and we gave up too many easy baskets.” Simmons was proud of how Troy Taylor played in the game with recording a triple-double. “He wants to win, and he changes his pulse when things don’t go well. We need more of that from everybody else. We got into a sequence there in the first half where we just tried to shoot our way through things. We weren’t making shots, and we’ve talked about it – again – not settling, staying aggressive and driving the basketball. It seemed like, when we did that, we got much better looks.” Troy Taylor was proud of his accomplishing a triple-double because he was close in his freshman season at Evansville. “It’s something I always had as a goal, because I know freshman year I was in the same situation and missed it by like two points. It kind of ate me up inside that I missed it. You never know when the chance is going to happen again. I’m upset, obviously, that it came with a loss. I just try to play hard every single game and keep everything consistent.” Colt Ryan believes there were many areas where the game slipped away from Evansville including being out rebounded by Creighton. “We knew they wanted to come out and jump on us early. We didn’t do a very good job of containing the dribble drive. We were giving up middle penetrations. Their two man – we didn’t do very well with that either to start the game – and as a result they were able to get some layups and wide open 3s to stretch that lead.”

On Wednesday evening Evansville will face the Missouri State Bears. The Bears are a team who does not shoot the ball well. Missouri State has lost by 12, 59 to 47, to Alabama A&M, who Evansville defeated 72 to 46 at the Ford Center. Also, the Bears have not defeated a Division I opponent yet this season as the Bears only victories on the campaign have came at the hands of Division II teams. Paul Lusk of Missouri State has encouraged his team to shoot more, so if the Aces can force Missouri State into making some ill advised shots Evansville could have a rare easy Missouri Valley Conference victory. After this game, Evansville faces a surprisingly strong Southern Illinois team under the leadership of Barry Hinson. Even with this, these are two winnable home games for Evansville and this is something the Aces will need to do to secure a high seed for the conference tournament. If Evansville drops one of these two games at home against two beatable opponents, the Aces will need to counter balance this loss by picking up a road victory at a venue where they probably will not win, such as at Wichita State. This outcome is unlikely so this will prove to be a pivotal week for Evansville basketball in the conference chase.

Written by theSPORTSfeast Evansville Insider Bryce Weiler

Photo Courtesy of MATT MILLER/THE WORLD-HERALD

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