College Basketball

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Evansville (7-9) at Southern Illinois (5-11)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 11, 4:05 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: SIU Arena (8,339) -- Carbondale, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Evansville 6-4, Southern Illinois 3-3. Away Record: Evansville 1-5, Southern Illinois 1-6. Neutral Record: Evansville 0-0, Southern Illinois 1-2. Conference Record: Evansville 0-3, Southern Illinois 1-2. Series Record: Southern Illinois lead, 66-50.

GAME NOTES: Southern Illinois will be looking for its 13th straight home win over Evansville on Saturday when the Salukis host the Purple Aces in Missouri Valley Conference action.

The Salukis pulled out a 71-67 victory over Loyola Chicago on Wednesday by scoring the final six points. Trailing 67-65, Jalen Pendleton scored on a layup with 57 seconds left to tie the game, and after a steal, Pendleton scored the go-ahead basket with just six seconds on the clock. After Loyola Chicago missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Desmar Jackson knocked down two free throws to seal the outcome, which snapped Southern Illinois' three-game skid.

Jackson has been special on both ends of the floor for Southern Illinois, leading the team in scoring with 21.2 ppg, while also pacing the conference in steals at 2.31 per outing. Jackson is one of only five players in the nation to average more than 21 points per game and shoot 49 percent or better from the field. He and Pendleton, who averages 12.1 ppg, have been the lone bright spots for a Salukis group that had dropped seven of nine coming into Wednesday's game. The Salukis are shooting 47.0 percent this season, but only scoring an average of 67.9 ppg.

Evansville came out of its non-conference schedule with a 7-6 record but has since dropped three in a row to open MVC play, including an embarrassing 80-53 loss to Northern Iowa on its home floor on Wednesday. Northern Iowa made 50.9 percent of its shots and 14 3-pointers in the rout. The only highlight for the Purple Aces was Blake Simmons netting a career-high 16 points. Besides Simmons' 6-for-8 shooting effort, Evansville shots just 13-of-39 (33.3 percent) from the floor. Leading scorer D.J. Balentine had just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, well below his season total of 21.8 ppg, which tops the conference. The 6-foot-2 sophomore guard is part of the fourth-youngest team in Division I as a pair of freshmen and three sophomores comprise the starting lineup for the Purple Aces. The defining stat for the Purple Aces is 50 percent. When they make at least half of their field goal attempts they are 7-0, but 0-9 when firing at worse than 50 percent.

The last time Evansville won at SIU Arena was on Feb. 21, 2001. Both teams are struggling to get on track this season, and while it wouldn't be particularly surprising to see Evansville end its skid in Carbondale, the Salukis should earn a win against an inexperienced bunch.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Illinois 66, Evansville 61

01/11 12:21:58 ET

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