Canisius vs Evansville Preview and Prediction
Canisius vs Evansville Preview
After playing back-to-back home games for the first time this season, Canisius returns to the road Saturday when the Golden Griffins take on Evansville. Game time in the Ford Center in downtown Evansville, Ind., is set for 2 p.m. (Eastern).
Canisius and Evansville are meeting for just the second time in series history. The two schools first met March 26, 2013 when the Purple Aces scored an 84-83 win over the Golden Griffins in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 CIT.
The Griffs are playing their seventh road/neutral site game of the season on Saturday. In all, the Blue and Gold have traveled 10,272 miles since starting the year at cross-town rival Buffalo Nov. 11.
Evansville, which leads the nation in three-point field goal shooting percentage at 49.2 percent, is 6-2 on the season after the Purple Aces defeated Bowling Green 91-76 on the road Dec. 5.
Keys for Canisius
The Griffs come into today’s leading the MAAC and ranking 41st in the nation in team field goal percentage at 49.2 percent. They will need to continue to shoot lights out to stay in this game. Evansville isn’t a big-name school, but they have solid players who work well as a unit, evidenced by their early season record.
Sophomore Malik Johnson leads the team and ranks fourth in the MAAC with his 5.4 assists per game. He has a total of 49 assists this season, which ranks 39th nationally, and ties him for 10th among all Division I sophomores. Johnson will need to control the Griffs offense–whether it’s getting the ball down low to Jermaine Crumpton or finding an open shooter in the corner for a three–it will need to go through Malik and he’s more than capable to handle the load.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Reese scored a career-high 31 points in the loss to St. Bonaventure. He leads the team and ranks seventh in the MAAC with his 16.9 points per game. Reese has improved drastically from his freshman season to present day. He recorded the schools first triple-double in program history against Youngstown State and can do it all for the Griffs. If he has a good day, there is a good chance Canisius will be right there at then end with a chance to win.
Keys for Evansville
Redshirt-junior Ryan Taylor leads the way offensively for Evansville with his 21.3 points per game. He will not play today, as the school announced last week that Taylor will miss up to six weeks with a stress fracture in his foot. This is a crushing blow to the Aces, who have relied on Taylor to carry the offensive load.
Without Taylor, Evansville will count on homegrown talent to get them through. Sophomore guard Dru Smith was born and raised in Evansville, Indiana and is second on the team in points (11.9 points per game)–he is also the team’s leader in assists which may need to take a backseat if he is going to take more of a scoring role with the team.
Defensively, Evansville ranks 33rd in the nation in scoring defense, with the team allowing an average of 62.9 points per game. The Purple Aces
have held six of their first eight opponents under 65 points.
LINE: -5 Evansville
I’m a little surprised to see Evansville favored in this game with Ryan Taylor, their best player and leading scorer, missing the game. The Griffs are yet to win a true road game this season and will need to play team basketball on both ends of the court in order to come away with the victory.
If Canisius can stop the three ball, or at least limit the Aces opportunities, I expect the Blue and Gold to come away with the upset victory.
Canisius 78 Evansville 75