TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA---The Hulman Center was filled with blue and purple this afternoon as the Evansville Purple Aces made the two hour trek to Terre Haute, Indiana, for a "Game of the Weekend" Missouri Valley Conference matchup with the Indiana State Sycamores.
And what awaited them you asked?
A "House of Terror."
With 17 of Brenton Scott's game-high 24 coming in the first 9 minutes and 11 seconds, Indiana State ran away and hid from Evansville in a, frustrating for the Purple Aces, 82-65 victory.
Draining their first attempt of the game, Indiana State sped off to an 8-0 lead before Evansville knew what hit them. Even with Purple Aces' head coach Marty Simmons using a timeout to stop the run, Scott quickly over-matched a small 4-0 Evansville mini-spurt with 5 points in two possessions. 13-4 Sycamores! The Hulman Center was rocking!
However, it would not be loud for long as 9 quick points, capped off by a D.J. Balentine jumper, drew Evansville within five at the 13:20 mark. Moreover, after some back and forth action, Adam Wing drilled a jumper, he was fouled on, and converted an "and one" to make it a one-possession game (25-23 ISU).
Though, and despite being up only one before the last media timeout of the first half, the Sycamores soared on a 15-2 domination, nine coming from Devonte Brown, which turned an almost neglected advantage to 14 points.
And do you want to know the most surprising part? The Purple Aces' were trailing by almost three times the margin that they were at Wichita State!
Yet Evansville did not lie down as Jaylon Brown and Adam Wing combined for five points to start the second half, which made the deficit single-digits and caused Indiana State head coach Greg Lansing to use a timeout.
"Here comes the Purple Aces!" was what the fans traveling from Southern Indiana thought.
But, they were wrong!
Receiving big three-pointers from Matt Van Scyoc and Niels Bunschoten, the Sycamores pounced back on their prey and took a 16-point lead!
Needing a basket to stay competitive, Evansville received a huge lift from Balentine, who scored 5 more of his team-high 20, as a part of a 7-0 comeback. It was back to a nine-point contest.
Though, the Purple Aces were unable to come any closer. Why?
It started with back-to-back triples, one by Devonte Brown and Khristian Smith, which re-upped the gap to 15. Then, Brenton Scott produced five to counter baskets by Balentine and Brown before five made free throws increased the lead to a game-high 18.
And how much time was left?
3 minutes and 1 second! The Indiana State Sycamores had done the unthinkable.
No, destroy Evansville.
Passing the Baton
Taking over the game from the tip, Brenton Scott supplied the Indiana State Sycamores with their initial lead. But, upon his cool off, the home team was only leading by one point. Thankfully, and just like a track rely, Scott handed the scoring baton to "star senior" Devonte Brown.
"It was mostly about watching B-Scott, and seeing how they weren't face guarding him and they wouldn't face guard me. So, I just noticed how he was getting his spots and the shots he was getting. He set the foundation and the blueprint, and I just followed it."
---Indiana State's Devonte Brown
Fairly quiet prior to the "hand-off," Brown mirrored Scott with nine unanswered points to close the first half. In addition, the Texas native led the way in the second by netting 11 of his game-high 24 points.
With a combined 48 from Scott and Brown, any team from "The Valley" would struggle keeping pace. Hence, Evansville.
As packed as the Hulman Center has been all season, the Indiana State Sycamores seemed to feed off their fans energy on Sunday. Not a valid thought? Well, consider this: Greg Lansing's squad has not lost a home game since December 9 versus Valparaiso, and has defeated all conference opponents who have played on their court by at least 12 points! Furthermore, "stud sophomore" Brenton Scott has been a load in the friendly confines, for he is averaging 22.5 points per game, including 25 points against Illinois State and a career-high 31 dropped on UNI. 11-9 (5-3) Indiana State will look to continue showcasing at home Wednesday when hosting Dequon Miller's Missouri State Bears.
Balance Does Not Equal a Win
If someone failed to watch today on ESPNU and was able to only look at the box score, one would see the Purple Aces had four scorers with ten or more points. Yes, to go along with Balentine and his 20, Jaylon Brown and Adam Wing posted 13 points respectively while "Iggy," aka Egidijus Mockevicius, had another double-double (13 points and 10 points). But, the problem was not the widespread production across the four, but the lack there of from the rest of their teammates, who had 9 points all together. So what do the Purple Aces need to do to fix the issue? Hmm, that is a fantastic question that time will only answer.
After winning for the first time at Illinois State last Friday, D.J. Balentine, Egidijus Mockevicius, and the current senior class of the Evansville Purple Aces entered looking to do the same at Indiana State. Sadly, they could not do so. Having lost every matchup in Terre Haute since the 2010-2011 campaign and eight of their last ten overall, the Purple Aces' experienced their worst road loss at Indiana State since January 23, 2008 (30 points). Splitting the season series with their intra-state rival for a second straight season, 17-4 (6-2) Evansville will attempt to avoid consecutive losses when traveling to Carbondale, Illinois, for a showdown with the Southern Illinois Salukis on Thursday.
He Said It (Part I)
"We didn't do a very good job contesting. We didn't give a lot of resistance. They really did a good job of that with us. They gave us tons of resistance. They scout well, they pay attention to their game plan. And we have been pretty good at it all year (scouting and executing game plans). We didn't execute very well. Give credit to them. They played great."
---Evansville Purple Aces' head coach Marty Simmons on their defense.
He Said It (Part II)
"I thought Murph (Brandon Murphy) did a great job against him (Evansville's All-Missouri Valley Conference center Egidijus Mockevicius)." said Indiana State head coach Greg Lansing. "Murph really fought him. We didn't want to give him anything easy. He gets dump downs off of stuff--off their tight cuts--and gets a lot of offensive rebounds. He had three. That's about as good as you are going to do against him."
He Said It (Part III)
"It was just all a part of the game plan. The coaches in practice kept on emphasizing the film and all the mistakes we were making in the first game against Evansville. I just wanted to come out and help my team."
---Indiana State "stud sophomore" Brenton Scott.