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November 17, 2013

Illini back on the hardwood




The Illini have put all the drama of last week behind them and are ready to actually play a basketball game on Sunday against in state rivals Bradley. The Illini have a bit of an edge to them as the past 24 hours seem to be ready to take out their frustration on someone. Enter the Bradley Braves.

Setting the Stage

Illinois (3-0) vs. Bradley(4-0)
Nov. 17, 2013 // 5 p.m. CT // Champaign, Ill. // State Farm Center (16,618)
Internet Stream: BTDN - Joey Gelman (Play-By-Play), Jeff Ohmer (Analyst), Hayley Lockwood
Radio: Fighting Illini Sports Network - Brian Barnhart (Play-By-Play), Jerry Hester (Analyst)


Notable

* Sunday's game vs. Bradley will be streamed live at FightingIllini.com. The video streams are part of the Illini All-Access package via the Big Ten Digital Network (BTDN), available through monthly or annual subscription. The Illini All-Access subscription includes all streamed events involving Illini athletics. The service is $9.95 per month and fans can sign-up at FightingIllini.com. The game will be televised tape-delay. The BTN is scheduled to air the Illinois-Bradley game on Monday (Nov. 18) at 2 p.m. Illinois has one more game that will be streamed as part of the BTDN; the Dartmouth contest on Dec. 10.

* There are more than coaching ties between the Illini and Bradley staffs; it crosses over to family. Geno Ford is now in his third season in charge of the BU program. He is the older brother of Illini assistant coach Dustin Ford. The brothers were both standout players at Ohio University, Geno from 1994-97 and Dustin from 1998-2001. Geno was then on the Bobcat bench as an assistant coach during part of Dustin's playing career. This is not the first time the Fords are on opposing sidelines, however. Prior to taking over at Bradley, Geno was head coach at Kent State for three seasons. Dustin also was in the Mid-American Conference at that time, serving as an assistant coach at Ohio for John Groce. Geno Ford was also on the sidelines for Kent State when Illinois defeated them in South Padre back in 2008.

* Current Bradley player Mike Shaw is sitting out after transferring from Illinois during the off season.

* The two teams last met in Las Vegas back in 2009 when Jim Les and the Braves defeated the Illini behind Sam Maniscalco 72-68.


Keys to the game

1. Get after the Braves - Bradley has had turnover issues early in the season and Illinois has the ability to apply some pressure and get into passing lanes. If the Illini can get some easy baskets it takes a lot of pressure off of the half-court offense.

2. Squeeze the Lemon- Walt Lemon does a little bit of everything for the Braves. The all-conference guard scores, distributes and defends at a high level. The senior guard has to be contained. The Illini need to keep him out of the lane and not allow him to set up others or score on his own. Make someone else beat you.

3. Contain the shooters - Bradley is a solid team in the Missouri Valley, but this is a game the Illini should win. However, the 3 point shot is the great equalizer. If Illinois wants to have an easy day, they need to prevent 3 point looks from the Bradley shooters and force them into tough 2 pointers.


Prediction

Illinois is in a bad mood right now, and they are looking for someone to beat on. Bradley is hyped and wants to beat up on the flagship school. This will be a high level energy game, but the Illini control it and win 76-63 to move to 4-0.


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