Loyola-Chicago (6-19) at Bradley (7-21)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 18th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carver Arena (11,164) -- Peoria, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Loyola 4-7, Bradley 6-8. Away Record: Loyola 2-12, Bradley 1-11. Neutral Record: Loyola 0-0, Bradley 0-2. Conference Record: Loyola 1-14, Bradley 2-14. Series Record: Bradley leads, 30-16.
GAME NOTES: Loyola-Chicago travels to Peoria, Illinois tonight, to face long- time rival Bradley as part of the BracketBusters weekend series at Carver Arena.
Loyola Chicago enter this meeting with just six wins to show for its 2011-12 campaign. The Ramblers snapped an 11-game skid with a 78-69 victory over UIC last Saturday, but got right back on the losing track in a 63-57 final at Butler on Tuesday. The Ramblers currently sit in last place in the Horizon League, with just one win in league play.
As for Bradley, the Braves too, have struggled mightily this season, to the tune of a meager 7-21 overall ledger. The Braves have lost back-to-back meetings and four of their last five, and most recently were handed a 62-55 verdict in a home contest with Drake on Wednesday night, which dropped the squad to 2-14 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Braves lead 30-16 in terms of the all-time series between the two foes.
The Ramblers just couldn't keep up with Butler in a six-point loss to the Bulldogs. Loyola hit 52.2 percent of its attempts from the floor during the opening stanza, but still went into the break trailing, 36-29. In the second half, the Ramblers held Butler to a lackluster 43.8 percent clip, but shot just 34.6 percent from the field themselves, and sent the Bulldogs to the foul line 18 times during the frame, from which Butler tallied 12 points. Ben Averkamp posted a game-high 23 points to lead the way for Loyola in the losing effort. The Ramblers virtual ineptitude on offense has been the source of the majority of their woes this season, as the squad has limited their adversaries to just 61.8 points per game on 44.4 percent shooting. Loyola nets a meager 55.6 ppg itself, hitting a mere 41.2 percent of its opportunities from the floor, including 30.5 percent from long range. The squad has had mild success at the charity stripe (70.0 percent), but has also been guilty of a whopping 362 miscues through 25 contests. The squad owns just two players with a double-digit scoring average, with Averkamp leading the way with 14.3 points to go with 7.0 rebounds per game. Walt Gibler follows (12.7 ppg), while Joe Crisman checks in at the cusp with an 8.7 ppg contribution this season.
The Braves were held without a three-point field goal (0-for-20) for the second time on the season, helping Drake to its seven-point victory. The Braves shot a meager 33.9 percent from the field overall during the meeting, and struggled at the foul line (13-of-22) as well. Walt Lemon, Jr. registered 22 points from off the bench to lead the way for Bradley, while Jordan Prosser netted 10 points and collected nine rebounds. Jake Eastman matched a career- high with 10 boards. With an underwhelming 40.8 team shooting percentage this season, the Braves average just 62.6 ppg. The squad has also yielded 72.0 ppg to the opposition, and is shooting just 30.2 percent from downtown and 68.1 percent at the charity stripe. Still, the club boasts three players with a double-digit scoring average, beginning with Taylor Brown and his 14.8 ppg. Brown also owns a 6.4 rpg tally as well, while Lemon, Jr. checks in with an 11.9 ppg mark. Dyricus Simms-Edwards rounds out the trio, netting 11.5 ppg, while Prosser rests at the cusp of double figures (8.6 ppg), to go with a team-leading 6.8 rpg mark.
Give a homecourt edge to Bradley in this one. Both squads are going through growing pains this season under first-year coaches, and neither inspires much confidence.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bradley 68, Loyola-Chicago 60
02/18 10:46:24 ET