Evansville advanced by beating Hofstra 77-70 while the Broncos prevailed over Austin Peay 83-80 last week.
Evansville comes into Monday night's game on a bit of a losing streak, losing five of their last seven. The Broncos are well aware of that situation, both because they themselves went through a four-game losing streak earlier in the year, and because they then won eight in a row. Boise State Coach Leon Rice knows that fortunes can turn on a dime, and he wants his team ready.
Evansville is 13-3 at home, but just 3-11 on the road this season.
Evansville has one notch in their belt that the Broncos don't; they beat a top 25 team (#23 Butler 71-68) which Boise State came up empty in three tries against #17 Utah State.
Colt Ryan makes things go for the Purple Aces, as he has led the team in scoring in 20 of 31 games this season, including the last seven. He fired in 32 points against Illinois State and another 31 vs. Middle Tennessee earlier this year. Ryan is averaging 15.9 this season. He is a 40-percent shooter from three-point land (63-155) but can also drive the hoop. You don't want to foul Ryan—he shoots 87.8% (130-148) from the free-throw line. He has a good sense of what is happening around him and will head to the basket on a shot—Ryan has a pretty good 3.3 rebounding average for a guard. Ryan is third on the team in assists with 73 and he also leads Evansville with 40 steals; he can hurt you in a lot of ways.
Kenneth Harris has paced Evansville in rebounding in 17 games, going over the double-digit mark on three occasions. He averages 6.1 on the season to go with 8.1 points a game and has 35 steals and 14 blocked shots. He isn't a sharpshooter (75-201), but more of the kind of guy who will persist until the ball goes in. Denver Holmes is another threat for triples (21-53) and leads the team with 89 assists. Along with Ryan, that's a good guard tandem.
Watch out for Piete van Tongeren—he shoots an amazing 64.1% (84-131) from the floor and also has 16 blocked shots. He will have to be challenged by Boise State's La'Shard Anderson to try to get some quick fouls. Underneath, the Broncos may want to either play zone or do some double-teaming. Kavon Lacey completes the lineup for the Purple Aces; he is a playmaker with 89 assists and averages 5.1 points a game.
Ned Cox doesn't start but he factors heavily into Evansville's game plan. Cox averages 7 a game, will shoot threes and dish out assists. Clint Hopf is another guy quick off the bench to provide inside help.
Evansville plays good, sound basketball. They're not going to "Dr. J." you with their athleticism, but they play good defense, rebound well, and take care of the basketball. Boise State will have to play well to come out ahead.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Monday night in the Arena.