The start of the game was delayed due to the lights not coming on after the pre-game introductions. Once the game got underway, the Braves proceeded to shoot the lights out.
Prior to the game, Bradley announced that they would be without the services of junior guard Will Franklin and sophomore center Patrick O'Bryant due to an inadvertent violation of the NCAA's "extra benefit" rule. Both have been declared ineligible from competition until the matter is resolved. The issue is currently under review by the NCAA's Student-Athlete Reinstatement Division and a final decision is expected to be rendered in the immediate future.
"Unfortunately, the young men involved were the unintended beneficiaries of resources not permissible by NCAA bylaws," said Bradley Director of Athletics Ken Kavanagh. "In addition to having already made full restitution for their gain, we hope that their eligibility will be full restored in the coming days." Bradley has scheduled a conference call with the media for Monday to discuss the issue further.
O'Bryant's absence ended up being an advantage more than a disadvantage for the Braves. Bradley coach Jim Les found out "a couple of days ago" and had time to prepare his team to play without their projected future NBA seven foot center. While Wainwright prepared his team all week for a Bradley team that featured their big man.
"We weren't aware of any situation involving the big youngster, who is an outstanding player," said Wainwright. "Who I thought would be a really significant force in the game. We had prepared a lot of things because of him."
O'Bryant's absence had to be a disappointment to the more than ten NBA scouts that were in attendance at Rosemont's Allstate Arena.
The game was close early until Bradley went on a twelve point run that began at the 8:07 mark with a three pointer by Marcellus Sommerville. The Braves stretched their lead to 15 with 4:18 remaining in the first half. The Blue Demons fought back with a seven point run that started with a Karron Clarke slam. Bradley ended up going into intermission with a 41-31 lead over DePaul.
DePaul's freshman forward Wilson Chandler did not play the entire first half due to disciplinary action involving a team rule. Chandler did play 18 minutes of the second half and ended up with two points and six rebounds.
The second half was marked by streaks by both teams. DePaul went on a nine point run early in the second half that featured a Wilson Chandler dunk that energized the crowd. DePaul managed to cut the lead to two on a three point shot by Clarke at 14:38. However, Bradley responded immediately with an eight point run of their own.
Clarke led all scorers with 19 points. Bradley guard Tony Bennett left his heart on the floor for the Braves. The Chicago Westinghouse High product finished with 18. He displayed great energy on the defensive end with three steals and even took a charge from Blue Demons big man Wesley Green.
This was Bradley's first road win since December 1st of last year. Les credited the win to some strict rules the night before the game. "Last night at 10:30 at bedcheck, we collected all cell phones," said Les. "We talked about it being a business trip. When the game's over and you've layed it on the line, you can get your cell phone back. So maybe that was the difference."
Les was proud of the leadership that his seniors provided during a timeout. "I started the conversation and I think our seniors finished it," remarked Les.
The story of this game was turnovers. The Blue Demons turned the ball over 23 times to 9 for Bradley. "It's been a long time since I've had a team turn the ball over 23 times," Wainwright observed. "Especially the types of turnovers we had."
The Blue Demons have final exams for the autumn quarter this week and have the Thanksgiving break to prepare for their next opponent – the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday.
Official Box Score
Post Game Audio
Wainwright Era Begins on Sour Note
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