University Of Evansville Purple Aces
After taking the lead in the Missouri Valley Conference a season ago, the University of Evansville basketball team has set its sights on more for the 2015-16 campaign. A crucial stretch awaits the team as it heads to three of its final four regular-season games. After their trip to Cedar Falls, where they begin the month on February 3, the Aces will play back-to-back games against Wichita State and UNI on Saturday, February 9, and Sunday, February 10, at Ford Center. Two of the final three games of this season will be held inside the friendly confines of the Ford Center, starting Saturday, February 20, in southern Illinois.
The UE's long-running holiday tournament will be held at Roberts Stadium in late December, and last season's visits to Wichita and Cedar Falls were the team's only two regular-season games.
The game was first played in a local high school sports hall, and some of the proceeds from the $1.5 million ticket sales were used to fund scholarships for victims "families, rebuild the basketball program, and erect a memorial to the victims.
Curtis' goal gave the Aces a 14-0 lead, but Evansville extended its lead and finished the game with a 14-0 run to take an 84-72 lead.
K.J. Riley contributed 18 points for the Walter McCarty-trained Purple Aces, who won the national title at Kentucky in 1996. McCutchan is well known and respected nationwide, having coached two Olympic trials teams and been named NCAA College Division Coach of the Year twice.
In 1946 he took over as coach, still teaches sports and mathematics and is now also the athletic director. He was the highest scorer in the history of the University of Evansville men's basketball program at the time of McCarthy's arrival, but he is still the top scorer on the Purple Aces "all-time scorecard. After playing for the NBA for 10 years and being a member of two national championship teams and a national title team before returning to his hometown to coach the Purple Aces, Evansville won just 11 games in his first season. The university had initially considered continuing the season with a new team made up of other students - athletes - but decided against it.
Expectations were fulfilled when Evansville (2-0) controlled the young Wildcats at both ends of the floor and led by as many as 20 points in the first half against the Wildcats (1-1) at the University of Kentucky. They answered with a Kentucky touchdown in the second half to grab a lead and then hold it to be the biggest upset of the season.
Southern started the second half with two free throws from Harvey, which was quickly followed by a three-point play by Frederking of the Aces. SIU fought back to reduce the lead with aces and made it 65-59, but Southern outscored Evansville by nine points in the first half.
The junior guard for the Redskins, who played for Arizona State and Kansas, has performed well in his first two seasons with the Aces. UE's game against Middle Tennessee State would have been King's first performance of the season, but his friend Marv Bates offered him the opportunity to write the color commentary for the game. The Salukis started the game with a three-point play by Frederking, followed by two free throws by Harvey and a layup by Harvey and then a jumper by Frederking.
The Purple Aces raised their hands and ran down the court as the Wildcats slowly marched off and Evansville won. There was some confusion before the basketball, but the purple and red items popped up at Roberts and a few fans noticed the red, not the black. The "Two Four Little Aces" who added color to the Evansville audition ceremony peered out of their cutouts as they paraded through Roberts Stadium. Both the Purple and Ace fans were dressed in red and wore red shirts, red shorts, black socks and black shoes.
Indeed, the Purple Aces phenomenon dates back to 1956, when the Roberts Municipal Stadium was built. In February 1978, a McCutchan-coached graduate of Evansville University played in a game against his alma mater. Shortly after the 1955 season, the team moved to the NCAA College Division (now NCAA Division II) and advanced to Division III. In fact, it is a phenomenon so old that it can be dated back to 1956 - the
Evansville won five national championships when it was promoted, and NCAA College Division tournament finals were played annually in Evansville. Only about 2,500 students attend the school in southwest Indiana, but it drew 134,622 and 31,895 visitors to its home games at Roberts Municipal Stadium last season.
Evansville is the state's second-largest city with less than 1.5 million residents, so courting aces catches the entire city. The response to the team has been even more impressive since the Purple Ace has become a fixture in the surrounding three states where the city of Evansville and the rest of southwest Indiana live and work.