Aces to play at 11 a.m.
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – It is a quick turnaround for the Purple Aces as they face off against North Carolina Central on Monday at the Ford Center. It will mark the annual game where local high schools from the Evansville area join the team to cheer them on.
Monday’s contest against the Eagles will mark the 500th in the head coaching career of Marty Simmons. Simmons has won 266 of his first 499 games as he is in his 17th season.
Taking on a 20-win team from a year ago, the Aces led by as many as 26 points against Arkansas State before winning by a final of 77-63 on Friday. Four Aces hit double figures, a feat the team accomplished eight times last season. UE registered nine steals in the game, a number they hit in 2016-17 just five times. Evansville attempted 17 three-pointers in the contest, connecting on five; last year, UE attempted that many treys just four times, going 1-3 in those contests.
Ryan Taylor had a great season debut, pacing the team with 23 points and 7 rebounds. His rebound total was a career-best while his point total saw him reach 20 for the 7th time with the Aces. Taylor was a perfect 6-6 from the line.
Evansville has had a great history with players from Lithuania and Dainius Chatkevicius is looking to keep that going. In his first contest at Evansville, Chatkevicius posted 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks; his block total led the team. He was also on the floor for 25 minutes.
Blake Simmons has done everything needed to make his way back after missing last season due to injury. Simmons had an admirable game against the Red Wolves, playing a game-high 35 minutes while notching four assists.
Sophomore K.J. Riley made an immediate impact with UE in his first game, playing 16 minutes while getting to the line seven times, hitting six of those attempts. Riley finished with 10 points in the game; it was the top total for a UE player in their debut since Mislav Brzoja had 21 against Earlham in first game in an Aces uniform.
North Carolina Central opened up its 2017-18 season on Friday in Chicago against UIC. The Eagles dropped a 65-55 decision to the Flames as Raasean Davis led the way with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Brandon Goldsmith and Reginald Gardner Jr. chipped in 13 apiece. Last year, the Eagles went 25-9 on their way to the NCAA Tournament.