Men's Basketball Set For Annual Trip to UNI
DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake University men’s basketball begins a two-game road swing on Saturday evening when it faces in-state and Missouri Valley Conference rival Northern Iowa. Tipoff at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The game will be televised in the state of Iowa via the following Panther Sports Network affiliates, KCRG 9.2, CFU 15, WOI 5.2 and KCAU 9.2. The game will also be streamed online via ESPN3.com and available on radio in Des Moines in 1350-AM KRNT.
Saturday’s contest is Drake’s second MVC road game of the season with the Bulldogs owning a 10-5 overall record and a 1-2 league mark after winning four of their last six games.
While the in-state rivalry excites both teams’ fans, the emphasis for Drake is picking up a critical Valley road win and ending the team’s two-game skid.
“For where we’re at right now it’s the next game and therefore the most important game,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “We’ve lost two straight and are trying to pick ourselves back up and find a way to be better.”
Part of that emphasis on getting better as a team has been a renewed emphasis on defending and rebounding. During a recent four-game winning streak, three of the four teams were held well below scoring one point per possession. However, the last two games, opponents have averaged 1.17 points per trip down the floor. Additionally Drake has faced a rebounding deficit in those two games. In the team’s 10 wins this season, it has won the rebounding effort each time.
Offensively Drake has benefitted from the emergence of senior Aaron Hawley (Rogers, Ark.) in conference play. In those three games he is averaging 16.7 points per game while shooting 8-of-11 from the three-point arc. In the loss at Bradley he poured in a career-high 27 points.
That effort was the Bulldogs’ fifth 20-point scoring effort this season with Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.) tacking on the sixth in Wednesday’s loss to Indiana State with 29 points. He leads the Bulldogs and ranks 77th nationally in scoring with 18.5 points per game this season.
UNI, picked third in the MVC preseason poll, is 8-7 this season and 2-1 in the MVC with the lone loss coming at Wichita State. The squad has won three of its last four games and is a perfect 5-0 at home this season.
“They’re very well coached, make the extra pass and play disciplined basketball,” Giacoletti said of UNI. “To beat VCU you’ve done something right and them leading against Iowa State was extremely impressive. The key is guarding and defending them while helping enough but not over helping to where they can make the extra pass and make you pay.”
Deon Mitchell leads the Panthers with 13.1 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting while two other, Seth Tuttle and Nate Buss, average 12.9 and 10.3 points respectively. Tuttle also pulls down an MVC-best 8.1 rebounds per game.
Following Saturday’s game, the Bulldogs remain away from home and travel to MVC newcomer Loyola on Wednesday, Jan. 15 to face the Ramblers at 7 p.m. in Gentile Arena.