Ohio Hosts Another Tough Mid-Major Opponent, Evansville

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This might sound familiar. Ohio (5-1) is hosting yet another tough nonconference mid-major opponent Saturday. This time the Evansville Aces (5-1) will be the team making the trip to the Convo.

Evansville’s lone loss this season came to a 6-1 Indiana squad. The Aces are efficient on the offensive end of the floor, ranking in the top 20 in the nation in both assists and field goal percentage. They average 18.3 assists per game, which is good enough for ninth in the country, and they shoot 51.8 percent from the field, which has them ranked 18th nationally.

The Bobcats and the Aces share two past opponents. Evansville played Ohio’s last opponent, Mercer, on Nov. 18 and defeated the Bears, 89-76. Then on Nov. 20, the Aces took on Valparaiso, defeating the Crusaders, 100-92. Sophomore guard D.J. Balentine led the way for Evansville in the game, with 32 points on 6-for-8 shooting from 3-point range.

Stopping Balentine will be a key for the Bobcats Saturday. He is averaging 27.0 points a game and shooting 53.5 percent from the field. The 6-foot-2 guard’s lowest scoring output this season was 14 points against Indiana. Other than that game, he has not scored fewer than 29 points in a game.

The Aces are a guard dominant team. They have four players that are 6-foot-7 or taller. However, only two of them receive significant playing time, and none of them average more than 5.0 points per game.

With Ohio’s big men playing well lately, this may present a matchup problem for Evansville. Maurice Ndour has been solid all season, leading Ohio in points per game with 15.5 a game. He also does a good job on the boards as he leads the team in rebounding with 8.3 per game.

Jon Smith has played extremely well lately for the Bobcats, posting 17 points and eight rebounds against Heidelberg and 16 points and nine rebounds against Mercer. Both Smith and Ndour are shot blockers, so they will make it difficult for Evansville’s guards to get shots off cleanly in the paint.

The game between Ohio and Evansville will tipoff at 2 p.m. in the Convo Saturday.