DES MOINES, Iowa - The Drake University men’s basketball team had a dominant second-half performance in its first competition of the season to earn a 101-80 exhibition win over Southwest Baptist at the Knapp Center Saturday night.
Joey King (Eagan, Minn.) paced the Bulldogs with a game-high 22 points in his debut. The freshman was 8-of-10 from the field, and 6-of-8 from behind the arc.
Aside from King, Drake had five players in double-figures on the night. Senior Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich.), who was selected to the preseason All-MVC team earlier this week, had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Junior college transfer Gary Ricks Jr. (Los Angeles, Calif.) had 12 points, hitting every shot he took from the field in his debut for the Bulldogs.
Seth VanDeest (Bettendorf, Iowa) showed why he was missed all of last season with shoulder complications. The redshirt-junior scored 15 points, including six of Drake’s first 11 and reached the free throw line seven times in a strong return and was rewarded with a standing ovation when he came off the court.
Drake trailed at the half, 44-42, due to impressive 47-percent shooting from three-point range for Southwest Baptist before the Bulldogs took control. Sparked by impressive shooting from King and fellow newcomer Micah Mason (Allegheny, Pa.) Drake went on a 16-0 run early in the second half to put the game out of reach. Mason finished the game with 10 points.
“Certainly the second half was a lot better than the first, especially on the defensive end,” head coach Mark Phelps said. “They hit 16 three-pointers. We knew they were a good basketball team and this was a good team for us to play in that we had to guard the three-point line, which we did in the second half.”
The Bulldogs shot 62 percent (15-of-24) from the arc on the night and 59 percent overall with an offensive attack that was engineered by Richard Carter’s (Detroit, Mich.) 10 assists to one turnover.
“We played four guys at point guard tonight, which was nice,” Phelps said. “Richard Carter had 10 assists and we had 25 as a team. Again, that speaks to our skill and hopefully we can continue to improve in that area as well.”
Defensively, in addition to limiting SBU in the second half, Drake forced 21 turnovers and grabbed 10 steals with a high-pressure, full-court defense that helped convert those turnovers in to 38 points.
Drake opens the regular season next Saturday, Nov. 10, against William Jewell at 11 a.m. in the Knapp Center.