Overall: Bradley guard Walt Lemon Jr.
The junior from Chicago averaged 18 points and six assists in the Braves' two wins. His running 25-footer at the buzzer produced a 69-66 win against Missouri State.
Newcomer: Wichita State guard Malcolm Armstead
The senior from Florence, Ala., averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in a pair of wins. His two free throws with 14 seconds to play sealed the Shockers' 67-64 win against Creighton.
Egolf happy to be back
Bradley coach Geno Ford said the decision to allow Will Egolf to return to playing basketball was no slam dunk.
Egolf was suspended after being arrested on New Year's Eve for possession of a nonprescription controlled substance. Egolf, who returned Jan. 15 when the Braves beat Southern Illinois 69-66, missed four games and had to fulfill a number of requirements mandated by both the university and the basketball staff before being allowed to return.
“Once you get all the facts, you have to make a decision that is fair and is good for the program and also for the kid,” Ford said. “We just felt the time he served away was severe, and we decided to invite him back and move forward.”
Obviously, Bradley's chances of success improve with the 6-foot-9 Egolf. Ford said Egolf is the team's best spot-up shooter from beyond the arc. He is a tough-nosed defender who has taken more charges than the rest of the team combined.
“He's the best communicating big man I've had in a long time,” Ford said. “He's invaluable to our basketball team. We're 100 times better with him than we are without him.”
With Egolf back, Bradley won two games last week after losing three of the four without him. Egolf scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the two wins, and also made 6 of 10 3-pointers.
Egolf is in his sixth season with the Braves, receiving an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA after missing two seasons because of serious knee injuries.
“I'm as happy as ever to be back on the court with these guys,” Egolf told the Peoria Journal-Star. “Everything I do from here on out will be my all. I'm just very grateful. My body feels great.”
Quote of the week
Creighton coach Greg McDermott, on whether he had any response to NCAA rule changes approved during the weekend: “I'll have to be honest with you, I haven't read one bit about it. I've been sulking over the loss (to Wichita State) and getting ready for our next game.”
Bits and pieces
» Southern Illinois' Jeff Early and Evansville's Troy Taylor rank 1-2 in the nation for rebounding by players 6-1 or shorter. The 6-1 Early is averaging 7.8 rebounds a game, while the 6-0 Taylor is at 7.4.
» Drake forward Ben Simons holds the dubious distinction of leading the conference in scoring differential in wins and losses. Simons is scoring 17.5 points per game in the Bulldogs' eight wins and 11.6 in their 10 losses — a differential of plus-5.9.
» Bradley is fifth among the nation's most improved teams. The 12-7 Braves already have improved last season's 7-25 campaign by five wins. Bryant — the school, not Kobe — leads the nation with an 11-win improvement.
» Evansville's Colt Ryan averaged 22 points last week despite making 10 of 30 field-goal attempts. The senior was 22 of 24 from the foul line, including 16 of 16 against Drake.
» Missouri State has had to rely heavily on its freshmen, and the newcomers have responded by scoring 500 of the team's 1,135 points. The freshmen have accounted for 44.1 percent of the team's points, 46.4 percent of its rebounds and 56.1 percent of its 3-pointers.
» Wichita State's Demetric Williams is tied with four other players for the most wins in school history. Williams has been a part of 98 victories in his four-year career.
— Steven Pivovar