Bradley (8-12) at Evansville (9-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, January 26, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Center (11,000) -- Evansville, Indiana. Television: MVC-TV. Home Record: Bradley 8-4, Evansville 7-4. Away Record: Bradley 0-6, Evansville 2-7. Neutral Record: Bradley 0-2, Evansville 0-0. Conference Record: Bradley 3-4, Evansville 2-5. Series Record: Bradley leads, 24-18.
GAME NOTES: The Bradley Braves try yet again to capture their first road win of the season, as they clash with the Evansville Purple Aces in Missouri Valley action at the Ford Center.
The Braves are heading in the right direction lately, winning back-to-back decisions after losing 10 of the previous 11. The most recent victory was a 69-65 triumph over Northern Iowa at home last Wednesday night. However, the squad is still just 3-4 in conference and four games under .500 overall.
As for the Purple Aces, they kicked off the 2013-14 campaign with five straight wins, but since then they've collected just four more triumphs. Earlier this week the program lost for the second time in three games with a 64-61 setback versus Missouri State on the road.
The Braves lead the all-time series by a count of 24-18, although Evansville is 14-6 at home and has won four of the last six meetings overall.
Walt Lemon, the active leading scorer for the Braves, put the team ahead against UNI at Carver Arena with 31 seconds to play and then sealed the deal with a couple of free throws with just 2.2 seconds remaining on Wednesday night. Lemon finished with a game-high 28 points, shooting 11-of-22 from the floor, while Auston Barnes pitched in with 10 points and seven rebounds, although he shot only 1-of-7 behind the 3-point line.
The only player to start all 20 games for the Braves, it only makes sense that Lemon is also the leading scorer at the moment with his 17.4 ppg, although he could stand some additional practice behind the 3-point line where he is just 29.6 percent accurate. Tyshon Pickett chimes in with 11.6 ppg, but as the leading rebounder with 7.4 rpg, he shouldn't be out on the perimeter where he has converted only 3-of-19 in the first place. As a group, the Braves are averaging less than 4.5 3-pointers per game.
Evansville led by as many as eight points late in the first half against Missouri State, but the Purple Aces saw that advantage shrink to only two at the break and then turn into an eight-point deficit in the second half. D.J. Balentine tried to keep the visitors in the mix with his 18 points, but he shot only 5-of-17 from the floor, which means the rest of the team combined to make 14-of-27. Egidijus Mockevicius responded with 10 points and nine rebounds in the loss.
Over the course of seven conference games, of which they've won only two, the Purple Aces are scoring a mere 64.0 ppg, even as they convert 41.9 percent of their attempt beyond the arc. Unfortunately, the defense is giving up 73.6 ppg, making the 20.3 ppg by Balentine a non-factor more often than not. Blake Simmons (9.7 ppg) has combined with Balentine to connect on 31 of the unit's 39 triples in conference play.
If Balentine doesn't get any real scoring support from his teammates today, that could easily open the door for the Braves to come away with their first road win of the season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bradley 67, Evansville 63
01/26 10:34:55 ET