What to know about UE basketball

EVANSVILLE — The University of Evansville men’s basketball team is going through one of its toughest stretches of the season.

The Purple Aces are in the midst of four games in five days, with Thanksgiving being their only day off between games at Central Florida and the three games at the Hostile Hoops Community Classic in Savannah, Georgia. This stretch will test UE in a number of areas and could provide an opportunity for Coach David Ragland to go Deeper into his rotation.

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UE will also get a chance to play against competition similar to the middle and lower parts of the Missouri Valley Conference. The Aces were picked to finish last in the Valley but have shown flashes of a team that could finish higher than that, particularly on the defensive end. Ragland has pointed to the need to put that together for a full 40 minutes. UE did that against Miami (Ohio) in the season opener and in flashes against Saint Louis but has struggled in more recent games.

As the Aces make their way to Savannah, Let’s take a look at what to know about the multiple-team event:

Evansville's Kenny Strawbridge Jr. (20) drives past Southeast Missouri's Chris Harris (5) during their game at the Ford Center in Evansville Wednesday night, Nov.  16, 2022. The Redhawks came out on top with a 67-61 win over the Purple Aces.

Who’s in the field?

South Alabama

  • Record: 1-3
  • KenPom: 195
  • Projected starting five: Isaiah Moore, Tyrell Jones, Greg Parham, Owen White, Kevin Samuel

The Aces face what is likely to be their toughest test of the weekend against the Jaguars, who are coming off a 21-win season. While things haven’t gone South Alabama’s way thus far, it has plenty to build on, particularly Isaiah Moore.

The Graduate transfer from Franklin Pierce is the seventh-most utilized player in the country, per KenPom, and averages 19.5 points. Seven-foot center Kevin Samuel and Greg Parham both average over 10 points.

Oklahoma guard Grant Sherfield (25) shoots in front of South Alabama guard Isaiah Moore (4) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov.  18, 2022, in Norman, Okla.  (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

UE’s turnover-focused defense could find trouble against the Jaguars, who are No. 33 in the country in turnover percentage. Despite that, South Alabama isn’t a great shooting team and has yet to reach the 75-point mark. When playing DI opposition, the Jaguars are 0-3.

The Jaguars have struggled with allowing offensive rebounds, but other than that, their defense has kept them in games. UE and RMU are similar in terms of play style and where each team is strong, which makes this the game to watch for both in Georgia.

Robert Morris

  • Record: 2-2
  • KenPom: 289
  • Projected starting five: Enoch Cheeks, Kahliel Spear, Josh Corbin, Jackson Last, Stephaun Walker

The Colonials are slightly more balanced than South Alabama with multiple major contributors. All of the Colonials’ regular starters average over six points per game.

Robert Morris guard Enoch Cheeks (5) shoots a 3-pointer during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Nov.  19, 2022, in Dayton, Ohio.  (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

Offensively, RMU has struggled. Its two wins are against non-D-1 opponents and it only scored 53 and 51 points in losses to Ohio State and Dayton, respectively. Their defensive effort kept them alive against the Flyers, but their offense struggles to get a true rhythm going.

This could make for a back-and-forth game.

Fairfield

  • Record: 0-4
  • KenPom: 235
  • Projected starting five: Caleb Fields, TJ Long, Jake Wojcik, Allan Jeanne-Rose, Supreme Cook

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