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Bradley Braves vs. South Florida Bulls - 12/28/13

South Florida Bulls (8-4) at Bradley Braves (5-7)

College Basketball: Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 8:00 pm (Carver Arena)

The Line: Bradley Braves PK -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds

TV: None

The Bradley Braves host the Bulls from South Florida on Saturday night at Carver Arena in Peoria, Illinois.

Bradley was looking like a team that would be a top half Missouri Valley Conference team with a 4-0 start to the season. They have been on a major slide since they lost their first game at Illinois in a lopsided victory for the Illini. Teams have figured out that they don’t know how to handle full-court pressure well or how to bust the zone. They are a poor perimeter shooting team and thrive on transition. But they haven’t been able to force turnovers lately, and they find themselves stuck around the three-point line, unable to score much (27% from behind the arc). They really never were in both games in their holiday trip in Las Vegas vs. Pacific and Portland – both from the WAC, but teams they should have been able to hang with.

Bradley Braves vs. South Florida Bulls - 12/28/13

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves are led by senior slasher Walt Lemon Jr., who has struggled more games than not this season, and is obviously frustrated. Fellow senior Tyshon Pickett is a threat on the inside, but he’s been forcing the action a bit lately. He comes in with 13.3 ppg. Another weakness for the Braves is their bench play – with many newcomers who have not adjusted to the collegiate level. Coach Geno Ford will look to turn the season around this Saturday in front of the home crowd.

The South Florida Bulls are in line with most people’s expectations thus far as they look to contend in the American Athletic Conference. Senior Victor Rudd pours in 16.1 ppg, and freshman Chris Perry has emerged as a possible star in the league with nearly 10 points per game. The Bulls work the ball around better than the Braves and are 45% from the field, compared to their opponents shooting just 40%. That does not figure to change much in this game, as Bradley is shooting 40% and even worse of late.

If Bradley has a chance in this one, the defense will have to be at its best and they need to attack the zone and play with more moxie. I think Bradley will be in a dogfight as they really need to play well in their last test before Valley season begins and they should be pumped to play a team that most fans will want to come see. They may come up just short against a bigger, stronger Bulls team who has faired well in their two road tests vs. teams that pose a similar threat as Bradley.

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