November 20, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Bradley Braves head coach Geno Ford huddles up with teammates during the second half against the South Florida Bulls at the Sun Dome. South Florida Bulls defeated the Bradley Braves 82-63. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Basketball: Bradley Game Preview

Tonight, the Illinois Fighting Illini will play the Bradley Braves at the State Farm Center.

The Fighting Illini are coming off a 64-52 win over Valparaiso where the Illini fended off a late rally by the Crusaders to notch their third win of the young season. The Illini had four players score in double-digits, and forward Jon Ekey hauled in a total of 15 rebounds in the win.

Bradley is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference and finished seventh in the conference last year. Their overall record last season was 18-17.

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves come into tonight’s game with a 4-0 overall record. Their last game was a 77-64 win over the Chicago State Cougars.

Through their first four games of the season, Bradley has four players all averaging over 10.0 points per game.

The  Bradley offense is led by senior guard Walt Lemon, Jr. and sophomore guard Omari Grier. Both guards are averaging over 15 points per contest with Lemon, Jr. leading the team with 16.0 points per game.

Although he leads the team in scoring to this point, Lemon, Jr. also turns the ball over quite a bit.

He also leads the team with 3.8 turnovers per game.

In the team’s victory over Chicago State, Lemon, Jr. fouled out of the game after playing 17 minutes where he scored a season-low nine points and turned the ball over three times.

As for rebounding, the Braves has three players averaging over six rebounds per game thus far this season.

The team’s top two rebounders consist of forwards Tyshon Pickett (9.3 rebounds per game) and Austin Barnes (8.3 rebounds per game).

Although they are 4-0, the Bradley Braves have not played the toughest of opponents so far this season. Their four opponents consist of Chicago State, Alabama State (Illini opponent), Jacksonville State (Illini opponent), and Central Michigan.

This will be the 17th meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Braves. The Illini lead the series 13-3.

The Fighting Illini will try to continue their hot start the the 2013-14 season.

Thus far, junior guard Rayvonte Rice has been one of the hottest players for Illinois this season. He leads the team in scoring with 17.7 points per game and racked up a team-high 18 points in the victory of Valpo on Wednesday.

Yes, anything can happen, but Illini Nation should not expect much trouble from the Bradley Braves in this basketball game. John Groce will get his boys to play cohesively and the Illini should rack up their fourth win of the season in the process.

Probable Illini Starters:

  • G – Tracy Abrams (Jr.)
  • G – Rayvonte Rice (r-Jr.)
  • G – Joseph Bertrand (r-Sr.)
  • F – Jon Ekey (Gr.)
  • F/C – Nnanna Egwu (Jr.)

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Tags: Basketball Bradley Braves Illinois Fighting Illini Rayvonte Rice Walt Lemon

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