Evansville (13-10) at Bradley (13-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, February 5, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carver Arena (11,164) -- Peoria, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Evansville 11-2, Bradley 10-2. Away Record: Evansville 2-8, Bradley 3-6. Neutral Record: Evansville 0-0, Bradley 0-2. Conference Record: Evansville 6-5, Bradley 5-6. Series Record: Bradley leads, 23-18.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams from the Missouri Valley Conference with identical overall records both try to get back into the win column on Tuesday night, as the Evansville Purple Aces visit Carver Arena to tangle with the Bradley Braves.
Pitted against nationally-ranked Creighton on Saturday afternoon in Omaha, the Braves were handed a 75-58 setback, the third loss in the last four outings for the program and the 15th straight for Bradley when playing the Bluejays on the road. With a mark of 5-6 in conference play coming into the week, the Braves were tied with Drake, Northern Iowa and Missouri State for fifth place in the standings.
Also in action over the weekend, the Purple Aces went up against Missouri State on the road and suffered a narrow 62-61 defeat. The setback was the second in the last three games for Evansville, and the fourth in six tries which has the group now 6-5 in league play, which places it alone in fourth place.
Evansville won the first meeting of the season with Bradley just a couple weeks ago, 66-56, at home as the Aces survived just 2-of-13 shooting behind the 3-point line, by hitting on 50.0 percent from the floor overall and forcing Bradley into 16 turnovers. With the victory, the Purple Aces closed the gap in the all-time series with the Braves to 23-18.
Evansville led by as many as 11 points in the second half, yet somehow the Purple Aces found a way to let it slip away as they bowed to Missouri State on the road by a single point the last time out. The visitors held the Bears to just 5-of-15 behind the 3-point line, but that's exactly what did in Evansville in the final minute of play. Colt Ryan scored a game-high 24 points, followed by Ned Cox with 12 as the team shot 40.4 percent from the field in the close call. Ryan, the leading scorer for the program in eight of the last nine outings, is scoring 17.8 ppg overall this season, although when it comes to conference games he is dialing up the action with 21.5 ppg thanks to 90.1 percent accuracy at the free-throw line. As a group, Evansville is knocking down 78.2 percent at the charity stripe in conference play and yet it is scoring about two points less per game.
Just like most other teams that think they are keeping up with Creighton, the Braves saw first-hand how the Bluejays adjust at halftime as the hosts converted a staggering 69.2 percent from the floor after the break to surge ahead on Saturday afternoon. Dyricus Simms-Edwards ended up with 18 points, Walt Lemon 15 and Tyshon Pickett 11 points, but only one other player (Jalen Crawford) had more than just a single field goal otherwise. Lemon currently leads the team in both scoring (14.8 ppg) and assists (81), which is rather unusual, but his mere 29.0 percent shooting beyond the arc is far from encouraging. Simms-Edwards (11.8 ppg) and Pickett (11.0 ppg) aren't big factors out on the perimeter either, the team shooting a collective 31.3 percent beyond the arc through 23 games.
After being dominated by Creighton in the final 20 minutes of their game over the weekend the Braves need something to get their heads back on straight. Unfortunately, with as poorly as the team has been shooting on the outside, should they fall behind there might be no coming back on Tuesday night.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Evansville 68, Bradley 63
02/05 10:31:46 ET