Monday, December 05, 2016

Next Up: Purple Aces

So, BG gets a quick turnaround, heading directly (I assume) from Cincinnati to Evansville to take on the Purple Aces Tuesday night.

They were 25-9 last year, losing by 2 in the MVC tournament championship and did not go into one of the post-season tournaments, despite finishing with an RPI of 92--their 2nd straight year of sub-100 RPI.  From that team, they lost 3 starters who started every game and then lost a 4th to a season-ending injury.  Due to all this, they were picked #9 in the MVC.

Even so, they are off to a good start.  They are 4-4.  Three of the losses were to teams with a sub-100 Kenpom...Louisville (7), Wilmington (66) and Middle Tennessee (82), the last two on a neutral floor and the Wilmington game was close.  They also lost to UT in 2OT on a neutral floor.  Their wins (Alcorn State, Morehead State, Wabash) weren't great, but then they beat Boise State (#103) in Evansville, which is a very nice win for them.  Their kenpom is 145 right now.

As you can see, their scoring and defense are pretty much the same as BG's have been to date.  They've played a better schedule than BG so far, but that is supposed to be adjusted.  Anyway, it isn't a completely unworkable match up from that perspective.  They also play of the 40 slowest game paces in the nation.

So, when BG has the ball...well, looks at it this way, Evansville's opponents have been more effective on offense than BG has.  The P-Aces allow teams to shoot a little bit better than BG does.  They do force an above average number of turnovers and, but they are poor on the defensive boards and give up a lot of FTs.  They do defend the 3 well.

For the second straight game, BG is playing a team that does not attempt 3s.  Only 17% of their shots have been from 3...which is literally LAST in D1 and the second to last team has 21%.  The difference is that unlike Cincinnati, which is deadly from 2FG, Evansville makes only 47% of their 2FGs. They also turn the ball over an above average amount of time.  They are not invested in offensive rebounds.  The key element of their offense is FTs.  They are #25 in the country in getting to the line and just a tick below average (68.6%) in making them.

Individually, they are led by Jaylon Brown, their PG, who is their one returning starter from last year.  He's scoring a very efficient 18 a game, shooting 48% overall.  Ball-handling wise he isn't the greatest, with 22 assists and 24 turnovers.

Their second leading scorer is 6'6" SO Ryan Taylor, who is a transfer from Ohio U.  He's scoring 15 a game and is their best 3FG shooting at about 40%.  They don't have one big rebounder...just a bunch of guys with 4 a game or so.

They have a 6'3" G named Duane Gibson who has battled some injuries but is now coming back.  He may have started slow, but had 10 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in the Boise win.  Finally, Willie Wiley is a 6'7" JUCO All-American scoring 8 pts and 4 rebounds.

They do have height, but the quality is suspect.  They have a 7+ foot Serbian C who averages 13 minutes a game but they have 7 players who post from 6'6" to 6'9".

So, look, this isn't a great Evansville team.  However, they are at home and would appear to be good enough to beat BG.  BG will need to bounce back quickly with a really good effort to get this win.  The Purple Aces have played 5 years in this new arena and won 72% of their games there.  That said, it doesn't look like it is undoable to me.

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