IU prepares for Balentine, Evansville

Evansville brings one of the nation's highest-scoring offenses to Assembly Hall.

Indiana won't exactly get to play a cupcake opponent in its first game since falling to No. 18 Connecticut in the championship game of the 2K Classic.

The Hoosiers (5-1) will play and Evansville team that enters Tuesday night's game averaging more than 90 points per contest.

Evansville has put pretty good teams on the floor the last several years, but Indiana coach Tom Crean said this is the best one he has seen in his time at IU.

"This is one of the best offensive teams to come into Assembly Hall in some time," Crean said Monday. "They're not hunting 3s. They're a spacing team."

"Our team will see more cuts, screens, flair screens, curls -- they'll see more of that in 10 minutes than they might see in three weeks tomorrow. They're very good at that."

Evansville (5-0) has scored at least 84 points in each of its five games, and the Aces poured in 100 points in a win over Valparaiso.

They are led by sophomore guard D.J. Balentine, who attended Kokomo High school in Indiana. Balentine is averaging 29.6 points per game, the fourth-best scoring average in the nation as of Sunday.

Balentine is shooting 59 percent from the field, 65 percent from beyond the arc, and 94 percent from the foul line. He scored exactly 29 points in four of the five games, adding a 32-point performance against Valparaiso.

Balentine is getting to the line at an impressive clip, as well. He has attempted double-figure free throws in four of five games, and has attempted 54 free throws so far this season.

"Balentine's numbers, they're Xbox numbers," Crean said. "He's got quick feet. That's always where we start. He has done a great job with his body. He's mixing it up, he's going both ways. He's got the pull up, he's got the floater, he's doing a great job of getting fouled. And his release looks the same every time, so I would think it's just hours and hours and hours in the gym perfecting his stroke."

Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell is familiar with Balentine from their time as Indiana High School All-Stars. He said he's seen improvement from the Evansville guard since that time.

"He's a lot more poised. He's better with his feet and getting his jump shot off quickly. They run a lot of sets for him."

As a team, Evansville is shooting 56.6 percent from the field, the second-best mark in the country entering Monday. The Aces are also third in the nation with 20.6 assists per contest.

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