TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Indiana State fell behind early as Evansville hit seven of their first eight shots from the field but came back in the second half behind a strong defensive effort to down MVC rival Evansville 72-62 in front of 6,444 fans inside Hulman Center.
The Sycamores swept the two-game homestand to improve to 12-6, 5-2 MVC while Evansville fell to 11-8, 4-3 MVC. Indiana State is now in sole possession of third place in the tough Missouri Valley Conference.
ISU improved to 10-1 this season when holding a team under 63 points and 35-2 when doing so under third-year head coach Greg Lansing. The Sycamores won for the fourth consecutive time against Evansville.
Manny Arop led the Sycamores in scoring by dropping in 19 points on the strength of a 7-for-9 shooting performance as well as a perfect 4-of-4 mark from the free throw line. Jake Odum added 17 points as he went 4-of-5 from the field and 9-of-12 from the free throw line with six assists and four rebounds.
Indiana State shot 52.2 percent from the field, hitting more than half their shots for the second consecutive contest. ISU was a blazing 13-of-22 in the second half, and they held the Purple Aces to just a 23-of-59 mark in the game (including just 10-of-35 for 28.6 percent) in the second half. Evansville was limited to 39 percent shooting for the game.
The Sycamores finished 5-of-12 from 3-point range for the game, hitting all five of their treys in the second half.
Justin Gant paced the Sycamores with seven rebounds in the contest.
Evansville took a 42-40 lead at the 11:49 mark of the second half on a jumper by Lewis Jones. ISU scored the next 11 points of the game as they held the Purple Aces scoreless until Colt Ryan hit a pair of free throws with 6:43 remaining.
Overall, the Purple Aces were held without a field goal for over seven minutes of game time as Ryan drilled a 3-pointer with 5:45 remaining to creep Evansville within 56-51.
Odum converted a conventional 3-point play at the 4:12 mark to stretch the lead to eight, Ryan answered with a jumper to make it 59-53. Lucas Eitel buried a 3-pointer with 3:18 to go to stretch the lead out to 62-53 and Arop added a jumper a minute later for a 64-53 cushion.
Jake Odum hit 1-of-2 free throws with 29 seconds left to give ISU a game-high lead of 70-56 before Egidigus Mockevicius tapped one in at the buzzer to give the Sycamores the 72-62 victory.
It was all Evansville in the early going as Ned Cox hit a 3-pointer on their first possession for the quick 3-0 lead and they stretched it out to 17-6 at the 14:17 mark on a Cox lay-up.
RJ Mahurin got the Sycamores within 28-26 at the 1:16 mark with a lay-up but Evansville scored the final four points of the first half to take a 32-26 lead into the half.
Ryan was one of three Purple Aces to reach double figures scoring with 19 points.
The Sycamores hit the road on Wednesday, January 23 when they travel to Illinois State. Tip-off is slated for 8:05 p.m. (ET) and the game can be seen live on WTWO-TV.