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Game Recap: Evansville Purple Aces Trump Marian Knights 84-59

The Aces struggled early against NAIA Marian University before Egidijus Mockevicius took over late in the second half. Evansville never looked back to earn their second win of the season.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Egidijus Mockevicius put an exclamation mark on a 13 point Evansville run with a putback jam, putting the Purple Aces up by 14 with just under 2.5 minutes left in the first half. The bucket also happened to give Mockevicius his thirteenth point for the night, which was exactly what he needed to reach 1,000 career points with the Aces.

Evansville needed the senior Lithuanian to step up, as they had trailed NAIA D-II Marian University Knights from Indianapolis earlier in the first half and were only leading with a 25-24 score 14 minutes into the game. Mockevicius took over for the next six minutes, though, with five points, a steal, two rebounds, and lock down defense.

To that point the Marian Knights were making Evansville work with a balanced offensive attack that had little difficulty penetrating the paint and a trio of well timed three pointers. Marian entered the Ford Center at 5-0, utterly dominating all but one of their NAIA contests.

By the end of the first half Evansville was in charge 40-27, although star guard DJ Balentine had a temporary scare coming out after collapsing to the ground late in the first half. He did, however, come back in the second half with no problem.

The Aces didn't have anything to worry about after that, as they opened the second half with an 8-0 run. The Knights never threatened after that. In spite of their dominant 84-49 win at the close of the game, the Aces were uncharacteristically terrible from beyond the arc, only hitting one of their eleven attempts. Much of the inaccuracy came from Balentine, who was second in scoring with 17 points but with only a 38.5% shooting percentage, including an 0-4 performance from three point land.

Just as with the first half, Mockevicius ended the game as Evansville's leading scorer with 20 points (making nine of ten field goals) in addition to his 11 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Jaylon Brown (Jr-G) also had a solid night with 13 points, followed by juniors Blake Simmons (F) and Mislav Brzoja (G) with 9 points apiece.

The game was a homecoming of sorts for Marian Head Coach Carson Harris, who served as the Evansville assistant coach for five years before taking over the NAIA Knights.

Evansville's next game is the Mid-Major Madness Game of the Week against the Belmont Bruins on Saturday, November 21 at 1:30 pm ET.