Bradley Braves vs. Evansville Purple Aces - 2/9/14
Evansville Purple Aces (10-14) at Bradley Braves (10-14)
College Basketball: Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm (Carver Arena)
The Line: Bradley Braves -4 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds
The Bradley Braves look to keep their momentum going as they host the Evansville Aces in Peoria, Illinois for a Sunday matinee.
Bradley has won 4 of their last 6 and ended a massive drought of conference road losses by defeating Loyola (Chi) on Thursday. The Braves played very aggressive defense which countered their lack of rebounding. Oddly enough, rebounding has been a strong suit with this team, but they got outrebounded by 14 in the win. They only shot 36% from the floor, but held the Ramblers to 33%. Senior All-Valley player Walt Lemon Jr. darted and dashed to 21 points, as he has been turning on his game in second halves of games. He leads the Braves with 17.3 ppg, but nearly 20 ppg in conference play, trialing just 1 player in the conference who happens to be on the other side in this game. Coach Geno Ford is confident that his team has turned a corner and is playing like they are capable now. They still are thin on perimeter shooters and have an offense that doesn’t tally too many assists – only 4 last game (9.5 per game). A huge addition to this team has been junior transfer Auston Barnes, who consistently scores 8-10 points a game and averages 6 rebounds, but he brings high energy and swagger to his game and is a solid defender. Bradley as a team shoots a shade over 42% from the floor and just 32% from downtown.
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Mary Simmons’ Evansville Aces enter the game having lost 3 straight. They have never really been able to get a winning streak going this season and sea-sawed between wins and losses for the first half of the season. They bring a 2-9 road record into Carver Arena and have had trouble pulling out road games in which they stayed close. Sophomore sharpshooter DJ Balentine leads the MVC in scoring at 22.6 points per game. The problem all season has been scoring punch from anyone other than DJ, as no other Aces averages double-digits in scoring. They also have a pretty soft defense that allows opponents to shoot 45%, but some games they have given up 80+ points and playing catch-up with a lack of consistent scorers doesn’t bode too well. Evansville is pretty young and I imagine will contend for the top half of the league next year, but for now, they will look to stay somewhat competitive, which they’ve managed to do for about a month.
Bradley is 9-4 in the friendly confines of Carver Arena, but but 3 of those 4 came in a stretch when they really lost their groove before Valley play began. They seem to be getting by without great shooting and lots of passing. That is a testament to their defense and rebounding. I think the Braves win by 8-10 points in this one. They have a history of playing the Aces well at home, and as long as Balentine doesn’t rack up a ton, the Braves should get a fairly easy win.