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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 29, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carver Arena (11,094) -- Peoria, Illinois. Television: WTVP. Home Record: ISU 7-3, Bradley 8-4. Away Record: ISU 3-5, Bradley 0-6. Neutral Record: ISU 1-1, Bradley 0-2. Conference Record: ISU 4-4, Bradley 3-4. Series Record: Bradley leads, 62-54.
GAME NOTES: In another edition of the Interstate 74 Rivalry, the Illinois State Redbirds make the trek to Carver Arena to take on the Bradley Braves in a Missouri Valley Conference tilt on Wednesday night.
Illinois State comes into this matchup having lost two straight, but it is 6-4 in its last 10, winning three of its last five overall. Last Saturday, the Redbirds fell to Indiana State on the road.
Bradley has won two of its last three but is just 3-7 in last 10. On Sunday, the Braves fell at Evansville in a 66-60 final.
This is the 117th all-time meeting between these two long-time rivals, with Bradley holding a 62-54 lead, which includes a 41-18 mark in Peoria. The Redbirds have gotten the best of the Braves lately, winning eight of the last nine encounters. The teams split the season series last year, with each winning on its home court.
Bobby Hunter finished with 13 points and four steals for the Redbirds as they fell to Indiana State last time out. Paris Lee and Reggie Lynch tallied 11 points apiece, while Lynch finished with seven rebounds. Indiana State drained 58.3 percent of its shots from the floor in the first half, including 7-of-11 from beyond the arc, as it took a 40-29 lead into halftime. Illinois State shot just 35.7 percent from the field, including 2-of-11 from 3-point range. The Sycamores made just 41.7 percent of their field goal attempts in the second frame, but that was good enough for them to coast to an easy victory. Indiana State shot an impressive 52.4 percent from 3-point range, compared with Illinois State's dismal 21.1 percent showing.
Daishon Knight, who has come off the bench in seven of his 20 appearances, leads the team in scoring with 12.9 ppg, even though he is shooting just 36.8 percent from the field. Zach Lofton, another part-time starter, chips in with 11.0 ppg, but his accuracy from the floor is absolutely abysmal at just 29.5 percent. A big part of the problem is his insistence on letting fly with half of his 109 field goal attempts from 3-point range where he has hit a mere 24.8 percent. Hunter brings some additional offense to the table, averaging 10.4 ppg. As a team, Illinois State is dead last in the conference in field goal percentage (.401), scoring just 69.3 ppg. They do lead the league in steals (7.3 spg).
In the loss to Evansville, the Braves were led by Walt Lemon Jr. with 14 points, while Tyshon Pickett had 13, Auston Barnes 11 and Omari Grier 10 in the setback. Bradley fell behind 6-2 right out of the gate and never recovered, converting just eight total field goals in the first half, en route to a 30-20 deficit at the break. In the second half, the Braves cut their deficit to just a single point, but the Purple Aces made sure to stay in front with the help of 52.9 percent shooting from the field and 16-of-18 at the free-throw line. Evansville won the game at the charity stripe where it outscored the visitors by a 27-10 margin.
Lemon leads the Braves in scoring, averaging 17.2 ppg, good for fourth in the conference. Pickett (11.7 ppg) and Grier (11.2 ppg) round out the scoring for Bradley. As a team, they rank last in the league with only 64.0 ppg. Luckily for them they are holding foes to just 67.1 ppg, which is second in the MVC.
Both of these squads have trouble putting points on the board, so expect a low-scoring affair. With that in mind, the better defense should win out, so expect the Braves to gut one out.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bradley 66, Illinois State 62
01/29 10:31:55 ET
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