What to watch as Bradley basketball tries for rare road win streak at Valparaiso

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Bradley's Rienk Mast (51) battles for a rebound with the Southern Illinois defense in the first half Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 at Carver Arena. The Braves defeated the Salukis 70-62.
Bradley's Rienk Mast (51) battles for a rebound with the Southern Illinois defense in the first half Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 at Carver Arena. The Braves defeated the Salukis 70-62.

PEORIA — Brian Wardle's teams at Bradley and, before that, Green Bay, never won two straight games at Valparaiso.

The coach of the Braves has a chance to build his first-ever win streak at Athletics Recreation Center when the Braves take on the Beacons at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Valparaiso, Indiana.

As coach at Green Bay, Wardle's teams went 1-6 at Valpo. At the Bradley helm, they are 1-4. Combined, there were 10 straight road losses from 2010-11 through last season, when Bradley broke the streak with a 76-52 win last Feb. 10.

The Braves make their first visit back to Valpo since the school changed its name from Crusaders to Beacons over the summer. The university said it made the change because hate groups had embraced the Crusaders name.

Analysis: 4 big reasons Bradley took control and kept it in a win over Southern Illinois

More accolades for Bradley guard

Bradley guard Terry Roberts continues to haul in accolades from the Missouri Valley Conference. He was named Newcomer of the Week for the fourth time this season on Monday.

The junior guard averaged 18.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in a pair of wins over Drake and Southern Illinois.

Terry Roberts profile: How a Bradley basketball player became 'Mr. 40' and found his way from NYC parks to Peoria

On the season, Roberts leads BU and all newcomers in the league with 16.1 points, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals. He ranks fourth among all players in the Valley in scoring, first in assists and second in steals. His 16.1 points per game are the most by a Bradley newcomer since Curtis Stuckey in 1989-90.

Roberts' four selections are also the most by a Bradley newcomer since Marcellus Sommerville collected six in 2003-04.

How to watch or listen, and what to know about Bradley at Valparaiso

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Athletics Recreation Center, Valparaiso, Ind.

Watch: ESPN+

Listen: WMBD 1470-AM, 100.3-FM

Live updates: Throughout the game at pjstar.com

Records: Bradley 10-10 (4-4), 5th in MVC. Valpo 10-10 (3-5), 8th in MVC.

KenPom ranking: Bradley No. 106. Valpo No. 189.

NET ranking: Bradley No. 111. Valpo No. 190.

Head coaches: Bradley, Brian Wardle. Valpo, Matt Lottich.

All-time series: Bradley, 7-5. In 2020-21: BU L 91-85 (2OT), W 76-52.

'Tired of losing': 4 big reasons Bradley basketball came together and upset Drake

Bradley: FG 44.9%. 3-point FG 35.0%. Top players: Guard Terry Roberts 16.1 ppg, 4.5 apg, 5.2 rpg; Rienk Mast 11.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg; Malevy Leons 10.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 44.6% from 3, team-best 24 blocks; Ja'Shon Henry 10.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg.

Valpo: FG 46.4%. 3-point FG 34.3%. Guard Kobe King team-best 14.5 ppg, 42.9% from 3; Ben Krikke (6-9, 235) next at 14.2 ppg; Rebound leader (6.9) Thomas Kithier and shooter Trevor Anderson (46.2% from field) both working around back injuries.

What they said

Valpo coach Matt Lottich: "They've played in a lot of close games. Very good defensively. They've got some new guys learning to play together. (Rienk Mast) is really good on the block and he can also shoot."

Bradley coach Brian Wardle: "I think Rienk started the year very slow and it hurt us. He's our one-two punch with Terry. He's a worker. Mast gets in the gym, watches film, he's been that way since he stepped foot on campus. He's emerging more vocally. He's very smart, should be a coach some day."

Bradley head coach Brian Wardle directs his team late in the second half on the way to a 70-62 victory over Southern Illinois on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 at Carver Arena.
Bradley head coach Brian Wardle directs his team late in the second half on the way to a 70-62 victory over Southern Illinois on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 at Carver Arena.

Bravely Speaking

Bradley has risen 128 spots in the NET rankings, the largest improvement in the nation. ... BU forward Rienk Mast is averaging 18.3 points in his last six games, and shooting 57% from the field and 43.5% from 3. ... Bradley's defense has forced opponents to shoot under their season field goal percentage in 17 of 20 games. ... BU big man Ari Boya is averaging 7.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in 13.5 minutes off the bench the last two games.

Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men's basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or deminian@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Bradley vs. Valparaiso basketball: Preview, what to watch, TV, stream

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