Drake To Face No. 23 Iowa In Big Four Classic
DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake men’s basketball team returns to action against No. 23/24 Iowa in the second installment of the Big Four Classic at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday evening. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast regionally on Mediacom MC22 and on radio via KRNT 1350-AM.
The game is the second of the Big Four Classic doubleheader with UNI and Iowa State facing each other in the opener at 5 p.m.
Saturday’s contest features a pair of one-loss teams with a combined 14-1 record this season as Drake returns to Des Moines with a 6-1 record and a four-game winning streak. Last weekend, the Bulldogs reeled off three straight wins over Fresno State, Northern Arizona and CSU Bakersfield to claim the Fresno State Classic title. Iowa travels to Des Moines with an 8-1 record after handling Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday.
“If you’re a college basketball player, you want the opportunity to play in these types of situations,” Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti said of the Big Four Classic. “It will be the largest and loudest crowd we’ve played in front of this year so we’ll have to do a great job communicating. You don’t have a pulse if you can’t get excited about this.”
The Hawkeyes are averaging 90.0 points per game led by Roy Devyn Marble’s 16.8 points per game with the team shooting 46.9 percent from the field.
“They’re long, athletic, shoot the basketball well and really want to get up and down the floor,” Giacoletti said of the Hawkeyes. “They present a lot of challenges, the first one being that we need to do a great job with our defense in transition.”
Iowa is averaging nearly 75 possessions per game, making its tempo one of the 40 fastest in the nation to present that challenge to the Bulldogs’ transition defense.
Meanwhile, Drake’s offense is paced by Fresno State Classic MVP, Richard Carter. He averaged 17 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in the three wins and on the season he’s averaging 20.6 points per game to rank 39th nationally in scoring.
Gary Ricks, Jr. was also named to the all-tournament team thanks to a career-high 25 points in the win over Fresno State while shooting 47.4 percent from the three-point line with a 14-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the classic.
Facing their third ranked opponent in the last two seasons, Drake will also strive to maintain its advantage on the glass. Through seven games, the Bulldogs have been outrebounded just once and own a 6.3 rebound per game advantage.
Drake and Iowa have met 66 times with Iowa holding a 56-10 advantage in the series with three straight wins over the Bulldogs. Prior to that three-game skid, Drake owned three-straight wins over the Hawkeyes.
Following the Big Four Classic, the Bulldogs will have a week off from competition for finals before returning to action on Dec. 14 to host New Mexico State at 7:05 p.m. in the Knapp Center. The Aggies are coming off a 24-11 season, a WAC championship and an NCAA berth.