IUPU-Fort Wayne (7-4) at Bradley (5-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 10, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carver Arena (11,060) -- Peoria, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: IPFW 3-0, Bradley 5-1. Away Record: IPFW 2-4, Bradley 0-3. Neutral Record: IPFW 2-0, Bradley 0-0. Conference Record: IPFW 0-0, Bradley 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Bradley Braves will try to pull themselves out of reverse when they square off with the IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons in a non-conference contest at Carver Arena.
IPFW recently stopped a short losing skid of its own by crushing Dartmouth, 80-64, on Saturday. The win came after consecutive losses on the road to Illinois and Miami-Ohio. The Mastodons are 7-4 on the season but just 2-4 in true road games. IPFW begins a three-game homestand with a date against SIU Edwardsville next.
A 73-67 loss to Milwaukee was the fourth setback in the last five games for Bradley, which holds just a 5-4 record overall. The Braves have played rather well at home, with five wins in six tries on the campaign. Bradley will play on a neutral court next as it takes on Portland and Pacific as part of the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic.
These two teams will be meeting for the first time ever on Tuesday.
IPFW shot better from the floor than Dartmouth and also got itself to the free-throw line more often. The Mastodons netted 56.3 percent of their field goal attempts and hit 19-of-31 tries at the foul line. On the other end the Mastodons held Dartmouth to just 42.4 percent shooting, while the Big Green went just 8-of-15 from the charity stripe.
The Mastodons have been shooting at an accelerated rate from the field all season, knocking down 49 percent of their attempts from the floor. Leading the offensive charge is Luis Jacobo (14.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), who is the top scoring option despite getting all his work off the bench. Jacobo was in fine form again versus Dartmouth as he dropped in a game-high 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Steve Forbes (11.2 ppg) and Pierre Bland (10 ppg, 4.8 apg) are each averaging in double figures as well, though Bland's ability to set up teammates is more valuable. Joe Reed (9.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg) teams with Jacobo to form a strong second unit.
Despite 20 points from both Walt Lemon Jr. and Tyshon Pickett, the Braves didn't have enough to take down Milwaukee. The Braves connected on just 38.3 percent of their attempts from the field and were outscored 27-6 from beyond the arc.
Lemon (17.2 ppg, 4.1 apg) is more than just a scorer for the Braves as he leads the team in assists as well as points. However, he could be more efficient with his shooting as he is making good on just 40.5 percent from the floor. In the loss to Dartmouth, Lemon needed 21 shots to accumulate his 20 points. Pickett (15 ppg, 7.2 rpg) may be the second option, but finishes on 55.3 percent of his shots, though he works much closer to the rim. Omari Grier (12.6 ppg) and Auston Barnes (9.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg) are the other main contributors for a Bradley team without much depth. In fact no other player is scoring more than five points per game.
With Jacobo and Reed as reserves the Mastodons certainly have a leg up on Bradley in terms of production off the bench. However, if Lemon finds some more success from the field at home, the Braves will earn the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bradley 71, IUPU-Fort Wayne 68
12/10 10:30:18 ET