The Purple Aces men’s basketball team will look to improve to 3-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play on Wednesday evening when they take on Wichita State at 7:05 p.m. at the Ford Center.
The Aces improved to 2-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play after rallying from 14 points down to take a 76-65 win at Northern Iowa. It marked the first win for the Aces in Cedar Falls in ten years. Colt Ryan scored 29 points while Denver Holmes had 16 and Kenneth Harris contributed 11.
Junior Colt Ryan was pivotal in the Aces’ come-from-behind victory at Northern Iowa. After being held scoreless in the first half, Ryan erupted for 29 second-half points. The Batesville, Ind. native was a perfect 14-14 from the free throw line while draining six buckets, including three treys. His performance helped UE grab its first win in Cedar Falls since the 2001-02 season. Through two MVC games, the Batesville native has averaged 27 points per game. His 14 free throws made were a McLeod Center record for an opponent.
For the third time this season, the Aces shot 90% of better from the free throw line, thanks to a 24-of-26 performance from the line at Northern Iowa. In those three contests, Ryan has been perfect, hitting all 30 shots from the charity stripe.
The Aces improved to 2-0 in the MVC with a home win against Southern Illinois and a road victory at Northern Iowa, making UE one of just two MVC teams undefeated through the first weekend of league play. Evansville is 2-0 in league play for the first time since the 1998-99 season and also won its conference road opener for the first time since that season.
Wichita State is 10-3 overall and 1-1 in the MVC. The Shockers began league play with a 90-51 win at Bradley before falling at home to Creighton by a score of 68-61. They have offensive firepower from all angles as six Shockers average double figures, led by Joe Ragland’s 12.3 points per game. Toure’ Murry has averaged 11.8 while four others have scored between 10 and 11 PPG. WSU ranks 11th nationally in rebounding margin, outrebounding the opposition by an average of 8.7 per game. They are also 11th in the nation in scoring margin, winning their games by an average of 17.5 PPG.
With an 80-74 victory over UE at Roberts Stadium last season, the Shockers extended their streak over the Aces to three games, dating back to the first meeting in the 2009-10 season. Evansville was down just a point at halftime, 38-37, but Wichita outscored the Aces, 80-74 in the second half. Colt Ryan led UE with 22 points while Ben Smith notched 17 to lead the Shockers.
In the win at Northern Iowa, the Aces made an impact on the McLeod Center record book. Colt Ryan’s 14-14 performance from the free throw line helped UE go 24-of-26 for the game. Ryan’s effort marked the most free throws made by an opposing player while the 24 by Evansville was the highest total for an opposing team. With 11 steals, the Aces also set the McLeod Center mark by an opponent.
Free throw have been an impressive strength for UE over the last five games. Evansville has shot 90% or better in three of those contests, including a 24-of-26 showing at UNI. Over that span, Evansville has hit 82.1% of its free throws and has moved up to the top of the MVC, shooting 74.2% on the season. On the individual side, Denver Holmes and Colt Ryan sit atop the league, shooting 86.7% and 85.2%, respectively.
Evansville will take to the road once again this weekend, traveling to Illinois State for a 1:05 p.m. game on Saturday afternoon.