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Drake Primed For State Farm MVC Tournament Date With Bradley

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
         
Release: March 01, 2011
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Sophomore Ben Simons
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For the second time in five days Drake will battle Bradley, this time with the stakes the highest, as the seventh-seeded Bulldogs play the 10th-seeded Braves in the opening round of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on Thursday (March 3) at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.  Game time is slated for approximately 8:35 p.m. and the contest will be televised by Mediacom Connections 22 in Des Moines with Mitch Holtus and Mac McCausland calling the action.

THE SERIES:  Drake is meeting Bradley for the 132nd time in school history. The Braves own a 78-53 series advantage and have won five of the last seven games. In the two previous meetings this season, the Bulldogs earned a 64-58 home win on Jan. 7, 2011, before dropping a 90-64 decision at Bradley last Saturday (Feb. 26).

IN OUR LAST MEETINGS:
Bradley 90, Drake 64 (Feb. 26, 2011)
PEORIA, ILL. - 
On a night when freshman Rayvonte Rice established a new Drake freshman scoring record, it proved to be an inspired Bradley squad on Senior Night that was too much for the Bulldogs to overcome as they dropped a 90-64 decision on Saturday (Feb. 26) in their regular season finale.

Junior Kurt Alexander directed the Bulldog attack with a team- and career-high 15-point performance.  Andrew Warren poured in a game- and career-best 33 points to lead Bradley.

The Braves connected on 63.2 percent of their shots in the game and 76.9 percent in the second half, while limiting Drake, who had posted back-to-back 50-percent shooting marks, to a 37.1 field goal percentage.

Rice joined Alexander with a double-figure scoring effort registering 14 points.  Alexander provided a team-high four assists in the contest, while sophomore Seth VanDeest posted a seven-rebound effort.

Bradley also received double-figure scoring efforts from Dodie Dunson, Dyricus Simms-Edwards and Will Egolf, who recorded 17, 15 and 11 points, respectively.

The 90 points were the most Drake had surrendered to a league opponent this season.

The game started on a different tone for the Bulldogs as they took an early 6-5 advantage before the Braves executed a 10-0 run to assume a 15-6 lead.

A jumper by sophomore Aaron Hawley ended the run before Bradley scored nine of the next 13 points to go ahead 24-12.

Nailing his first three-pointer of the season was redshirt sophomore Jordan Clarke before Alexander added a long jumper to cut the deficit to 24-17.

The Braves registered nine of the game's next 11 points to stretch the margin to 33-19 before redshirt freshman David Smith ended the run with a jumper with 3:47 left in the half.

Smith's field goal proved to be Drake's last of the half as the Bulldogs scored their final five points of the stanza at the free throw line and entered the intermission trailing 39-26.

Bradley recorded a 51.6 percent shooting mark in the initial 20 minutes, while limiting Drake to 34.5 percent from the field.

Clarke paced the Bulldogs with seven first-half points.  Eleven points apiece from Dunson and Warren led the Braves.

Rice scored seven of Drake's first 10 points in the final stanza before equaling Luke McDonald's freshman scoring record of 412 set during the 2000-01 campaign with a layup with 9:19 left and then converting a free throw to own the record outright.

Sparked by a career-high 11-rebound night from Warren, Bradley collected a 36-31 rebounding advantage.

Drake 64, Bradley 58 (Jan. 7, 2011)
DES MOINES, IOWA - 
Sparked by 17 points from sophomore Seth VanDeest, Drake withstood a strong Bradley effort to post a 64-58 victory over the Braves in the Knapp Center.

Four Drake players finished with double-figure scoring outputs led by VanDeest, while freshman Rayvonte Rice, sophomore Ben Simons and sophomore Aaron Hawley added 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Andrew Warren's 20-point performance paced all players, while Dodie Dunson chipped in 12 points for Bradley.

On the strength of a 48 percent shooting mark in the initial stanza, the Bulldogs raced to an early lead in the game and parlayed six first-half points from VanDeest into a 26-21 halftime advantage.

Drake maintained its edge in the affair until Jake Eastman connected on a layup to provide the Braves a 35-34 lead with 14:33 left in the game.

There were five ties and six lead changes before the Bulldogs went ahead to stay, 54-53, on a free throw by VanDeest with 2:55 remaining.

Simons and Rice each scored four points apiece, all at the free throw line, to secure Drake's first win over Bradley since a 68-54 decision on Feb. 7, 2009.

VanDeest and Rice scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the second half to spark the Bulldogs' come-from-behind victory.

Drake finished the affair shooting 42 percent from the field, while the Braves connected on 43.6 percent of their attempts.

Bradley edged the Bulldogs in the rebounding column, 35-31, while Drake committed only nine turnovers.

Rice pulled down a game-high eight rebounds, while redshirt junior Kraidon Woods was strong on the boards with seven rebounds.  Anthony Thompson and Dunson each snagged seven caroms for the Braves.

SCOUTING BRADLEY:   Bradley is 11-19 overall, including recording a 4-14 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference after its 90-64 home victory against Drake on Saturday (Feb. 26). The Braves are led by Andrew Warren and Dodie Dunson, who are registering 19.0 and 10.4 points per game, respectively. Jordan Prosser and Warren pace Bradley in rebounding at 5.5 rebounds per tilt, while Dyricius Simms-Edwards leads the squad in assists (3.5 apg).

Jim Les is in his ninth season as head coach at Bradley, owning a 153-139 ledger (.524).

CAREER VERSUS THE BRAVES:   Rayvonte Rice, Kurt Alexander and Seth VanDeest average 13.0, 10.0 and 8.8 points, respectively, in their careers against the Braves.  Seth VanDeest and Rice own a team-best 7.0 and 6.5 rebounds per contest, while Alexander is connecting on a team-high 54.5 percent from the floor.

DRAKE MVC TOURNAMENT HISTORY:  Drake will be playing in its 47th league tournament game when it squares off against Bradley on Thursday (March 3).  The Bulldogs have found moderate success as Drake as gone 15-31 in the previous 46 tilts.  The Bulldogs, though, have won at least one contest in tournament action in three of the last four seasons, including Drake's 2008 tournament championship.  As the No. 7 seed, the Bulldogs have posted a 1-3 mark, with their lone victory coming in 2005 over 10th-seeded Evansville, 82-68.

Since the MVC Tournament moved to St. Louis in 1991, Drake has posted 5-6, 2-10, 1-1 and 1-0 marks in the tournament's opening, quarterfinal, semifinal and championship round games, respectively.

Over its 46-game MVC Tournament history, Drake has averaged 64.6 points, while allowing the opposition to register 66.0 points.  The average margin in 15 victories has been 10.1 points, while the margin in 31 setbacks has been 9.9.  The Bulldogs are 6-7 in games decided by five points or less, including going 1-5 in six one-point affairs.

AGAINST BRADLEY IN THE MVC TOURNAMENT:  Drake is meeting Bradley for the eighth time in league tournament history with the Braves maintaining a 4-3 advantage.  The Bulldogs defeated Bradley in 1989 (77-75), 1981 (89-84) and 1977 (80-73), while falling in 1998 (69-62), 1997 (66-47), 1996 (64-51) and 1983 (63-53).

Over the previous seven games, Drake has averaged 65.6 points, while allowing the Braves to register 70.6 points.  The average margin in three victories has been 4.7 points, while the difference in four setbacks has been 12.3 points.

DRAKE CAREER NUMBERS AT ARCH MADNESS:
  Only seven members of Drake's 2010-11 roster have appeared in a MVC Tournament game, with all occurring during the 2009-10 campaign.  Ryan Wedel averages a team-best 13.5 points per game, while Seth VanDeest is the Bulldogs' top returning rebounder at 4.5 rebounds in two career tournament tilts.  Wedel turned in a team-best 52.6 percent shooting mark a year ago, connecting on 7-of-11 three-pointers for 63.6 percent.  As a team, Drake connected on 16 triples in last season's tournament.

ON THIS DATE IN BULLDOG HISTORY:  Drake is playing in its 16th game in school history on March 3 when it plays Bradley.  The Bulldogs own a 7-8 overall mark, including 4-7 away from home.

DRAKE HEAD COACH MARK PHELPS:  With passion and a commitment to elevate the Drake basketball program to levels of consistent excellence on and off the court, Mark Phelps is in his third year at the helm of the Bulldog basketball program.

Under Phelps' dedicated approach to recruiting and program building, Drake's incoming recruiting classes for the past two seasons have been ranked the best in the Missouri Valley Conference, pointing the Bulldogs on the road to success.  The Bulldogs' 2009-10 recruiting class was No. 1 in the MVC according to Van Coleman's Hoopmasters.com. Scouts Inc., in conjunction with ESPN.com, rated Drake's signees for the 2010-11 class the best in the MVC, as well.  Focused on the process of building a program the right way and working toward becoming a better team tomorrow and today, the results speak for themselves.

Phelps' 31 victories in two years at Drake are the second most wins accumulated by a coach in his first two seasons at the helm of the Bulldogs, trailing only the 32 wins achieved by Forddy Anderson in 1946-48.  Drake was the only school in the MVC to rank in the top 12 nationally in three different NCAA team statistics in 2009-10. The Bulldogs ranked No. 4 in turnovers per game (10.1 avg.), 10th in free throw percentage (.757) and 11th in three-point field goals per game (8.6 avg.). Drake also posted an all time school record low turnover total (332) during the 2009-10 season.

Phelps' teams at Drake have also been known for their shooting proficiency.  The Bulldogs made 284 three-point baskets in 2009-10, which was the second-highest total in school history.  Drake's .757 free throw percentage last year ranked third on the school's all time single-season free throw percentage list.  In his first year as head coach at Drake, Coach Phelps led the Bulldogs to a 17-16 record and their second consecutive post-season tournament in 2009 (CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament), marking the first time the Drake basketball program had advanced to post-season play in two consecutive seasons since 1970-71.  Under Phelps, Drake has played a traditionally strong schedule; over the past two seasons the Bulldogs played 28 games against teams that advanced to postseason play.

Phelps was named the 25th men's head basketball coach at Drake on April 21, 2008 after serving as associate head coach at Arizona State from 2006-08.

Phelps, 44, has been a basketball coach for 21 seasons, including 14 years on the collegiate level after a highly successful high school coaching career.

The Virginia Beach, Va. native had served on the coaching staff at North Carolina State under head coach Herb Sendek from 1996-2006 before joining Sendek at Arizona State in 2006.

Phelps was part of Sendek's staff that led North Carolina State to a 53-39 (.576) record in the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament play in his final five seasons in Raleigh, N.C.  The Wolfpack tied for the second most wins in the ACC from 2001 to 2006, and was one of only two ACC programs (Duke) to advance to the NCAA Tournament each of those five seasons.

Phelps joined the North Carolina State staff in 1996, serving as director of basketball operations before being promoted to assistant coach in 2000.  In 2005 he was named recruiting coordinator and director of scouting with the Wolfpack while continuing as an assistant coach.

Prior to joining the college ranks, Phelps, a 1996 Old Dominion University graduate, was very familiar with outstanding basketball programs having had a highly successful tenure as a high school head coach.  Phelps coached his way to a 148-53 (.736 winning percentage) overall record during his six years directing a pair of Virginia independent high school teams.

WEDEL HONORED ON SENIOR NIGHT:  Playing in his 62nd career game as a Bulldog and final one at the Knapp Center on Wednesday (Feb. 23) was senior Ryan Wedel.  He has started all but one game of his Drake career and owns 694 career points, while making 135 three-pointers, the eighth-best mark in school history.  He is second in the MVC in three-pointers made (2.3), while also rating sixth in three-point percentage (.411), 14th in scoring (10.9) and 15th in field goal percentage (.434). 

IF THE BULLDOGS DEFEAT BRADLEY:  With a victory over Bradley on Thursday (March 3), Drake advances to face Wichita State in the quarterfinal round of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on Friday (March 4) at 6:00 p.m.  A win would mark the fourth time in the last five campaigns that the Bulldogs have won at least one tournament contest.  The Shockers took the season series from Drake with an 82-63 home decision on Jan. 4, while downing the Bulldogs 68-54 in the Knapp Center on Jan. 15.  Wichita State has dominated the postseason series between the two schools winning five of the six meetings.  Drake's lone victory came in the opening round of the 1997 tournament, 74-63.

IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE:  For only the second time in school history, Drake closed its regular season against the same opponent as it faces in the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament when the Bulldogs battles Bradley on Thursday (March 3).  Ironically, the only other occasion when this occurred was during the 1982-83 campaign when the Bulldogs dropped a 62-61 regular season decision at Bradley on March 5, 1983 before returning to Peoria three days later where Drake suffered a 63-53 setback on March 8, 1983.  How long ago has that been, the No. 1 song that week on the Billboard chart was Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, who like Drake radio analyst Dolph Pulliam is a Gary, Ind., native, while the top-rated movie was Tootsie.

During the 1997 campaign it happened as well from one team's perspective as the Bulldogs met Bradley in the regular season finale on Feb. 24, 1997, in the Knapp Center, a 67-60 Braves' win.  Drake then won its opening round game over Wichita State on Feb. 28, 74-63, while Bradley had an opening-round bye.  In the tournament quarterfinals, the Braves again got the better of the Bulldogs posting a 66-47 triumph.

RICE GARNERS ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS:  Freshman Rayvonte Rice added a trio of accolades to his already impressive resume on Tuesday (March 1) as he was tabbed an honorable mention All-Missouri Valley Conference selection.  He was also named to the All-Newcomer and All-Freshman squads. 
Rice becomes Drake's first All-Freshman team selection since Josh Young during the 2006-07 campaign and fifth overall.  He is also the 12th All-Newcomer honoree in school history.

Statistically, he is ranked third in the conference in steals (1.4), sixth in scoring (13.8), 11th in blocked shots (0.7) and in three-pointers made (1.3).  In league-only games, Rice finished fifth in steals (1.3), seventh in blocked shots (0.8), eighth in scoring (13.5) and 11th in defensive rebounds (4.3).

RICE RISING TO THE TOP OF THE MVC ROOKIE CLASS:  Rayvonte Rice has fashioned together a strong rookie campaign, ranking sixth in The Valley in scoring at 13.8 points per game, a mark which is second among the league's freshman class.  Rice's 415 points through 30 games represent 21.9 percent of Drake's overall offensive output (1,898 points).  He leads the Bulldogs in steals (1.4) and rebounding (4.8) and is second in assists (1.7), while having scored in double figures in 14 of 18 league contests. 

IN THE LAST FIVE GAMES:  The Bulldogs own a 2-3 mark in their last five contests, with three of the five games occurring away from home.  Rayvonte Rice, Ryan Wedel and Ben Simons are averaging 14.6, 13.0 and 8.0 points, respectively, with Rice, Seth VanDeest and Jordan Clarke pacing Drake in rebounding, pulling down 4.8 caroms apiece.  The Bulldogs are shooting 44.2 percent from the field and 29.3 percent beyond the arc during the span.

THE RISE OF BEN:  Helping fuel the resurgence of Drake recently has been the play of Ben Simons, who has scored seven or more points in nine of the Bulldogs' last 10 games.  He has netted double figures in seven of those contests, including seven of the last 10.  In 18 conference tilts, he maintained a positive assist/turnover ratio 14 times, all while averaging 10.3 points and 1.6 three-pointers made per game.

THE LONG ARM OF JORDAN:   Persevering through a serious elbow injury to make contributions to the Bulldogs' revival of late has been the play of Jordan Clarke, including a career-best 10-point performance in Drake's 87-69 victory past Evansville (Feb. 23).  Despite being limited to only 18 games this season, Clark is second on the team lead in rebounding (4.7), while pulling down 4.8 caroms per night over Drake's last five games.  He registered a career-best 11-rebound effort in a 65-44 victory at Southern Illinois (Feb. 2).

DOUBLE-FIGURE SCORING NUMBERS:  Drake has posted an 11-6 record when three or more Bulldogs score in double figures.  When two Drake players register double-digit outputs the team is 2-8 and when only one Bulldog cracks the double-digit plateau, Drake is 0-2.  In games where Seth VanDeest, Ryan Wedel and Rayvonte Rice score in double figures, Drake is 8-5, 9-7 and 12-12, respectively.

THREE-POINT ATTACK: Drake has picked up where it left off last year in terms of three-point shooting, as the Bulldogs are averaging 6.7 three-pointers per game.  Drake topped the double-digit plateau, connecting on a season-high 16 triples at Southern Illinois, while adding 15 versus Chicago State, 11 triples against Weber State and Illinois State (1/18), 10 versus Missouri State (1/25), nine against Texas Southern and Southern Illinois and eight against Southern Utah and Evansville (2/23). 

Ryan Wedel is second in the MVC in three-pointers made (2.3), while he and Ben Simons rank among the top-10 in the league in three-point percentage.  Wedel, Simons and Rayvonte Rice stand among the top-15 in triples made.  Wedel's 69 three-pointers surpass his total of 66 for all of the 2009-10 campaign.

The Bulldogs led the MVC in three-point baskets (284) last year, while ranking seventh in the NCAA, averaging 8.6 treys per game.  The 284 three-point baskets rank second on the single-season school charts - 26 shy of the school mark of 310 set in 2007-08. Drake was the only team in the MVC that had four players who made 35 or more treys: Wedel 66, Adam Templeton 56, Josh Young 53 and Simons 37.

CAREER NUMBERS INCHING HIGHER:  Seth VanDeest is No. 6 on Drake's career blocked shots list with 63...with his third three pointer at Southern Illinois (Feb. 2), Ryan Wedel moved into the top-10 career list in triples and he now owns 135 at Drake, good for eighth place in school history...he has 310 three-point baskets in his college career...Wedel has scored 1,501 points in his college career (807 at Arkansas State).

A FEBRUARY TO SHINE:  Drake posted a 5-3 record in the month of February, including a 4-0 mark in the Knapp Center.  Rayvonte Rice sparked the Bulldogs, registering 16.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in eight contests, including shooting more than 45 percent (.451) from the field.  Ryan Wedel and Ben Simons join him in scoring in double figures, averaging 11.0 and 10.6 points per contest, while Seth VanDeest (.536), Kraidon Woods (.652), Reece Uhlenhopp (.538) and David Smith (.500) shot 50 percent or better from the floor.  As a team, Drake recorded 69.1 points and 30.0 rebounds and held the opposition to 68.4 points and 31.1 rebounds a night.  The Bulldogs outshot their opposition beyond the arc, 36.2-29.5 percent.

DRAKE IN THE VALLEY ODD-N-ENDS:

  • In nine home MVC games, the Bulldogs outshot their opponents, 46.2 percent to 43.8 percent, while outscoring the opposition 68.4 to 65.1. In those affairs, Drake was led by 14.3, 13.4 and 110.2 points from Ryan Wedel, Rayvonte Rice and Ben Simons, respectively.
  • In nine league road games, Drake opponents outshot the Bulldogs, 47.1 percent to 40.6 percent, while outscoring Drake 70.8 to 59.8. In those affairs, the Bulldogs were paced by 13.6 and 10.4 points from Rayvonte Rice and Ben Simons, respectively.
  • Through 18 games of the conference season, Drake shot 43.3 percent, including 36.7 percent beyond the arc, while averaging 29.4 rebounds and 64.1 points per game. A year ago, the Bulldogs connected on 42.2 percent of their attempts, including 35.7 percent from downtown. The team averaged 64.3 points and 28.6 rebounds per game.
MORE ON BRADLEY:
  • Bradley is first in the Missouri Valley Conference in steals (6.2), fourth in free throw percentage (.727), three-point percentage defense (.342) and turnover margin (+0.6), fifth in field goal defense (.436) and defensive rebounds (23.4).
  • In league-only affairs, the Braves finished second in conference in free throw percentage (.748), third in steals (5.9), fourth in three-point percentage defense (.339) and fifth in scoring offense (65.9), field goal percentage (.433), defensive rebounds (23.3), offensive rebounds (8.9) and rebounding offense (32.2).
A LITTLE OFF THE WALL:
  • The Bulldogs have played 46 contests versus Bradley decided by five points or less, registering a 23-23 mark in those games.
  • In home contests following a victory this season, the Bulldogs have registered a 5-2 ledger. In those tilts, Ryan Wedel and Rayvonte Rice average 14.7 and 14.1 points, respectively.
  • In the same scenario following a loss, Drake has posted a 4-3 mark. The Bulldogs outscore the opposition, by nearly seven points per game (72.7-65.9), while Rice (15.3), Wedel (13.6) and Ben Simons (11.1) record double-figures in scoring.
  • In road contests (road or neutral) following a victory this season, Drake has posted a 0-6 ledger. In those affairs, no Bulldog averages in double figures in scoring. Drake is registering just 52.5 points per game in these affairs.
  • In the same scenario following a loss, Drake has posted a 3-6 mark. Scoring is nearly identical with the Bulldogs' opponents outscoring Drake, 67.0-65.4, while Rice and Seth VanDeest average 16.1 and 11.9 points. Overall and three-point shooting again favors the Blue and White, .445-.436 and .392-.365, respectively.
  • The Blue and White are 6-8 in games played on even-numbered days this season and 7-9 in odd-numbered game dates.
BULLDOG BITES:
  • For only the second time this season the Bulldogs posted back-to-back games shooting better than 50 percent from the field as Drake connected on 56.6 and 56.0 percent against Evansville (2/23) and Detroit (2/19). Earlier in the campaign, the Bulldogs matched the feat versus Illinois State (1/18) and Northern Iowa (1/22).
  • Seth VanDeest has led the Bulldogs in assists a team-best eight times this season.
  • Redshirt sophomore Jordan Clarke distributed a career-high six assists in the Bulldogs' 84-76 victory past Detroit (Feb. 19) and he ranked second and sixth, respectively, in league-only affairs in offensive rebounds (2.3) and steals (1.3).
  • Drake registered a 6-6 mark in non-conference games this season and has been sparked by Rayvonte Rice, Ryan Wedel and Seth VanDeest, all averaging double figures in scoring at 14.3, 12.3 and 10.0 points per contest. Kraidon Woods is shooting a team-best 70.4 percent from the field, while Frank Wiseler (2.5), Rice (2.2), Wedel (2.0), Kurt Alexander (2.0) and VanDeest (1.8) are all registering at least 1.8 assists per outing.
  • In 12 non-conference games, Drake averaged 66.2 points and 30.3 rebounds a night, while connecting on 42.9 percent of its shots from the field, including a 35.5 percent mark from beyond the arc.
  • The Bulldogs' 37.3 percent shooting mark at Indiana State (Feb. 12) ended a string of eight straight games where Drake had shot 40 percent or better from the field. The last time the Bulldogs failed to connect on 40 percent of their shots was at Evansville (.340) on Jan. 12.
  • The 21-point margin of victory over Southern Illinois (Feb. 2) was the most by the Bulldogs in a game versus the Salukis in school history, while also making head coach Mark Phelps the first Drake head coach to win three straight on the road versus Southern Illinois.
  • The triumph over the Salukis was the initial for the Bulldogs on the road in the Missouri Valley Conference this season and first overall since downing Evansville on Jan. 20, 2010, 72-65.
  • Drake held SIU without a triple, marking the first time an opponent has failed to make a three-pointer since Feb. 16, 2000, when Bradley was 0-of-8 from distance.
  • Drake's 16 three-pointers at Southern Illinois were the most triples in a game since March 21, 2008, when it fell to Western Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs 10 second-half three-pointers were the second-best mark in a half in school history.
  • The 44-point effort by the Salukis was also the lowest-scoring output by either Drake or Southern Illinois in series history.
  • Drake was limited to a season-low 20 rebounds in its 68-54 setback to Wichita State (Jan. 15).
  • Drake had an off night at the free throw line at Evansville as the Bulldogs connected on 15 of their 29 attempts. The last time Drake missed at least 14 shots in a game occurred on Nov. 18, 2006, at the Top of the World Classic against Utah State, a 92-74 setback. In that affair, the Bulldogs made 20 of their 37 attempts.
  • Drake was held to fewer than 60 points in five of its 18 MVC games this season.
  • Led by a career-high three blocks from Kraidon Woods and two courtesy of Seth VanDeest, Drake recorded a season-best six blocks at Evansville (1/12).
  • It has proven to be a tale of two halves for the Bulldogs this season as Drake is shooting nearly 43 percent (.428) from the field in the first 20 minutes, while registering 29.9 points and 14.4 rebounds. Opponents are connecting on 43.3 percent of their attempts and are recording 31.4 points and 17.8 rebounds in the initial stanza. In the second half, the Bulldogs are averaging 34.8 points and 15.3 rebounds, while shooting 43.8 percent. Conversely, their opponents are posting 36.3 points and 17.3 rebounds in the final frame, including a 47.2 percent shooting mark.
  • Two of the Bulldogs' top-three leading scorers, Seth VanDeest and Rayvonte Rice, have found a knack of making their way to the basket as the duo has connected on 83 and 100 free throws, respectively, to account for nearly 45 percent (.449) of Drake's made free throws this season.
  • Drake has proven adept at spreading out the ball to its shooters this season as five different players have recorded 35 or more assists, including a team-high 60 assists distributed by Ryan Wedel. He is followed by Kurt Alexander (51), Rayvonte Rice (50), Seth VanDeest (44) and Ben Simons (36).
  • Kraidon Woods, Rayvonte Rice and Seth VanDeest are sparking the Bulldogs in blocks this season as they have registered 22, 22 and 18 blocks, respectively, to account for nearly 79 percent (.785) of Drake's rejections.
  • Ten of the Bulldogs' 14 players who have appeared in at least one contest this season have drained a three.
  • Drake improved its record to 5-1 when Aaron Hawley reaches double-figure scoring.
  • For the fifth time this season against Northern Iowa (Jan. 22), the Bulldogs registered a better shooting mark than their opponents and came away without a victory. Drake outshot the Panthers 51.4 percent to 51.0 percent.
  • Eleven times this season Drake opponents have netted more three-pointers than the Bulldogs (Iowa State, Colorado State, Creighton-1, Wichita State-1, Bradley-1, Indiana State-1, Wichita State-2, Northern Iowa-1, Indiana State-2, Missouri State-2, Bradley-2).
  • En route to holding its opponents to a .321 three-point percentage, the Bulldogs have limited the opposition to less than five three-pointers on 11 occasions.
  • Drake's 69-55 victory against Southern Illinois (Dec. 29) marked the Bulldogs' first win at home in a league opener since a 66-62 triumph over Wichita State on Jan. 4, 1996.
  • The 51-point margin in Drake's 102-51 victory over Chicago State (Dec. 23) marked the Bulldogs' largest win over an opponent since downing Waldorf, 104-51, on Nov. 26, 2006. The contest also represented Drake's first 100-point scoring output since defeating Evansville, 101-96, in the MVC Tournament on March 1, 2007.
  • The Bulldogs' eight triples in the initial stanza against Chicago State tied for the then fifth-most three pointers in a half in school history.
  • Ryan Wedel has connected on three or more three-pointers in 13 games this season.
  • The Bulldogs have had eight games this season decided by five points or less. The ability to close out contests has been a work in progress for Drake as the Bulldogs are shooting 36.9 percent in the final five minutes of games this season, as compared to a 45.7 percent shooting mark for their opponents.
  • Five Drake players are shooting 50 percent or better in the Bulldogs' last five games, led by Kraidon Woods (.684). Joining him is Reece Uhlenhopp (.600), Seth VanDeest (.550), Jordan Clarke (.500) and David Smith (.500).
  • Rayvonte Rice's 15-point, 10-rebound performance against Southern Utah (Nov. 24) is believed, according to Drake historian Paul Morrison, to be the first double-double by a true freshman for the Bulldogs since Melvin Mathis posted six double-doubles as a freshman during the 1982-83 campaign.
  • Two Bulldogs are shooting at least 50 percent from the field: Woods (.657) and VanDeest (.532).
  • Five Bulldogs have a positive assist-turnover ratio this season, including VanDeest (44-38), Wedel (60-41), Simons (36-33), Wiseler (29-16) and Smith (19-15).
  • Drake's starters are registering 46.9 points and 18.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 43.1 percent from the field. Conversely, the Bulldogs' bench is recording 18.1 points and 10.9 rebounds a night.
  • Drake has had 10 20-point performances this season, led by VanDeest (Southern Utah), Wedel (Texas Southern, Illinois State-1, Missouri State-1 and Evansville-2), Rice (Weber State, Chicago State, Southern Illinois-2 and Detroit) and Simons (Chicago State).
  • The 26 points scored by VanDeest against Southern Utah were the most points scored by a Bulldog since Jonathan Cox turned in a 27-point performance vs. Indiana State on March 5, 2009.

DRAKE'S OFFENSIVE PROGRESS REPORT: In Drake's 30 games this season, this is how the Bulldogs have fared from the field: 50 percent: .574 (Weber State), .566 (Evansville-2), .560 (Detroit), .531 (Boise State), .514 (Northern Iowa-1), .511 (Illinois State-1), 40 percent: .492 (Chicago State), .491 (Northern Iowa-2), .473 (Wichita State-1), .462 (Missouri State-1), .458 (Creighton-2), .457 (Eastern Michigan), .455 (Illinois State-2), .451 (Southern Illinois-2), .448 (Southern Utah), .442 (Dartmouth), .439 (Colorado State), .426 (Indiana State-1), .420 (Bradley-1), .413 (Southern Illinois-1), .400 (Wichita State-2), 30 percent: .392 (Iowa), .373 (Indiana State-2), .371 (Bradley-2), .356 (Creighton-1), .347 (Missouri State-2), .345 (Texas Southern), .340 (Evansville-1), 20 percent: .265 (St. John's), .224(Iowa State).

BULLDOGS' DEFENSIVE PROGRESS REPORT:
In Drake's 30 games this season, this is how the Bulldogs' opponents have fared from the field: 50 percent or more: .632 (Bradley-2), .577 (St. John's), .538 (Iowa State), .531 (Weber State), .519 (Wichita State-2), .510 (Northern Iowa-1), .500 (Detroit),  .500 (Colorado State), 40 percent: .490 (Evansville-2), .490 (Northern Iowa-2), .481 (Indiana State-2), .474 (Illinois State-2), .469 (Missouri State-1), .458 (Creighton-1), .456 (Evansville-1), .436 (Bradley-1), .433 (Illinois State-1), .426 (Dartmouth), .422 (Iowa), .419 (Creighton-2), .413 (Wichita State-1), .412 (Missouri State-2), 30 percent: .390 (Texas Southern), .388 (Indiana State-1), .386 (Southern Illinois-2), .381 (Boise State), .380 (Southern Utah), .354 (Eastern Michigan), .345 (Chicago State), .322 (Southern Illinois-1), 20 percent: NA.

IN OUR 13 WINS: In their 13 victories this season, the Blue and White are averaging 73.4 points, while shooting at a clip of .472.  The Bulldogs have held opponents to 60.2 points, while averaging 31.2 rebounds, 13.7 assists and 8.1 three pointers.

IN OUR 17 LOSSES: In their 17 losses this season, the Bulldogs are paced by 12.4 points per game from Rayvonte Rice, while tickling the twines for 58.5 points per contest.  The squad has connected on 40.1 percent of its attempts from the field, while rebounding 28.6 caroms a night. 

A CLOSER LOOK INSIDE THE STATS: The Bulldogs are 5-8 following a victory this season with Rayvonte Rice averaging 12.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.  After suffering a loss, Drake is 7-9 with Rayvonte Rice, Ryan Wedel and Seth VanDeest leading the way with 15.8, 10.6 and 10.1 points per tilt, respectively.

IN CLOSE GAMES: Drake has been involved in 30 games decided by five points or fewer under Phelps.  A breakdown of those matches is as follows; one-point difference (2-2), two-point difference (2-6), three-point difference (4-5), four-point difference (1-4) and five-point difference (3-1).

LUCKY NUMBER 70: Drake has found 70 to be the magic number when it comes to victories under Phelps as the Bulldogs have posted a 19-5 mark when scoring at least 70 points.  When the Blue and White surpass the 80-point plateau they are 7-1.

SHOTS FROM HEART: During the 2010-11 season, Drake head coach Mark Phelps and assistant coach Kareem Richardson have taking part in the "Shots from the Heart" campaign, a function of the American Heart Association and CollegeInsider.com in an effort to generate more awareness for the growing problem of heart disease.

There are two 64-coach fields (one for head coaches and one for assistant coaches) and the participating coaches are competing in a free throw shooting contest, which will be bracketed. Starting in mid-November, coaches competed against one another with winners advancing to the next round.

Phelps defeated Tom Moore of Quinnipiac in a first-round match, making 23-of-25 attempts, and advanced to face Butler's Brad Stevens in the second round, who bested Phil Martelli of St. Joseph's.  Phelps again moved on over Stevens, connecting on 23 of his 25 attempts.

In the Sweet 16 he again came away victorious, hitting 24-of-25 attempts to best Milan Brown (Holy Cross), who made 23-of-25.  Phelps next battles Sean Miller of Arizona in the West Regional final.

Richardson bested Wisconsin assistant coach Greg Gard in the first round, hitting all 25 of his shots, and moved on to meet Eric Eaton of Quinnipiac in the second round.  In the second round, despite making 24 of 25 attempts, Richardson was defeated by Eaton, who made all 25 of his shots.

Each coach will shoot 25 free throws at his location and a member of the athletics department will tally the results and the coach with the most makes will advance. The finals will take place at the Final Four in Houston, Texas, in March, 2011.

To find out more about this program and for ways to help in the battle against heart disease, log onto www.collegeinsider.com/shots or contact your local chapter of the American Heart Association. You can also log onto www.heart.org for more information on the American Heart Association.

UP NEXT:  A victory moves Drakes in the quarterfinal round of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament vs. Wichita State at 6:00 p.m. on Friday (March 4).  A loss brings to a close the Bulldogs' 2010-11 campaign.

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