Purple Aces



Purple Aces Highlights

General Information

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Missouri Valley (1994-present)
Past Conferences: Midwestern Collegiate
City: Evansville, Ind.
Arena: Ford Center
NCAA Tournaments: 5 (1982, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1999)


National Championships: None
Conference Tournament Titles: 3 (1982, 1992, 1993)
Conference Regular Season Titles: 6 (1982, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1999)

Team History

The Evansville Purple Aces compete in the Missouri Valley Conference and are coached by David Ragland, a former well-traveled assistant.

Before transitioning to Division I, Evansville had become established as a perennial contender at the Division II level. Evansville made the Division II Final Four six times between 1958 and 1971 and captured five national titles during that span, including back-to-back championships in 1964 and 1965 on squads starring NBA legend Jerry Sloan.

Altogether, the Purple Aces appeared in the Division II NCAA Tournament 15 times over 20 years under the guidance of Arad McCutchan. McCutchan, who coached Evansville from 1946-77, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and College Basketball Hall of Fame, following retirement.

Tragedy Strikes: Airplane Crash Takes the Team

In 1977, Evansville began competing at Division I. Tragically, that same year on December 13th, a plane carrying the team crashed en route to a game against Middle Tennessee State, killing all 29 individuals on board. A report produced by the National Transportation Safety Board the following year revealed two factors contributed to the crash, which had occurred roughly 90 seconds after takeoff: improper weight distribution and the failure to disengage two external safety locks.

The months to follow saw an outpour of support for the victims and their families, including thousands of dollars in donations and a memorial basketball tournament featuring players from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Evansville brought its basketball program the next season, and, in 1979-80 the Purple Aces joined the Midwest Collegiate Conference, now known as the Horizon League. They made the Division I NCAA Tournament for the first time in 1982 and won their first tournament game in 1989, 94-90 in overtime over Oregon State. The Purple Aces either won or shared the MCC regular season title five times between 1982 and 1993, before joining the Missouri Valley Conference prior to the 1994-95 season.

Their only NCAA Tournament appearance in the MVC came in 1999, when they lost to powerhouse Kansas in the opening round. They’ve also made three appearances in the CIT and two in both the NIT and CBI.

Ragland, a former Utah State and Butler assistant replaced Todd Lickliter as head coach following a 6-24 record in 2021-22. Evansville, picked last in the MVC preseason poll, is facing long odds to rebound from that finish.

All-Time Records

  • Points Scored

    • DJ Balentine: 2,464
    • Colt Ryan: 2,279
    • Marcus Wilson: 2,053
  • Rebounds

    • Egidijus Mockevicius: 1,258
    • Dan Godfread: 737
    • Sascha Hupmann: 716
  • Assists

    • Jeremy Stanton: 601
    • Scott Shreffler: 521
    • Jason Holsinger: 506


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