ANAHEIM, Calif. – Five Bulldogs scored in double figures for the second consecutive night, as the Drake University men’s basketball team pulled away from Rice, 77-66, in second round of the DIRECTV Classic Friday evening.
Jordan Clarke (Rockville, Md.) stole the show for the Bulldogs with his third double-double in a row for Drake (2-2), notching 15 points and grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds. His 18 rebounds also set a tournament record, previously held by Diamon Simpson of St. Mary’s in 2008, who had 17 against Cal State Fullerton. The senior also had four assists, two steals and two blocks.
“He [Clarke] was – really – a beast,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said. “He dominated the glass he had half of our rebounds. He rebounded at a high level and gave us all he had tonight and he was able to handle Rice’s Tamir Jackson defensively.”
Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich.) scored a team-high 18 points to lead the Blue and White past the Owls (1-4). Seth VanDeest (Bettendorf, Iowa) had a strong showing in the post to complement Clarke with 12 points and eight boards of his own. In his encore performance in front of his hometown crowd, Gary Ricks (Los Angeles, Calif.) scored 10 points and had three assists. Chris Hines (Houston, Texas) added 11 points. As a team, Drake shot 46 percent from the field and 44 percent from the three-point arc.
The Bulldogs stole momentum in the late stages of the game, taking advantage of an 11-4 run that lasted 2:44, to assume a 10-point lead with under four minutes remaining in the game. Until that point, the teams traded baskets, with neither team gaining a significant advantage.
“I was impressed with our team’s resolve and toughness,” “Rice did a great job at both ends and makes you guard for long possessions. Then when they score at the end of those possessions, that can really let the air out. But I thought we demonstrated toughness and the ability to bounce back.”
Senior guard Tamir Jackson had a game high 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting to pace the Owls’ offense. Julian DeBose added 12 points and grabbed a team-high nine boards.
Drake held the edge at halftime, leading 34-30 by using a 10-0 run in the middle of the first half to regain the lead 22-18, after a scoring drought erased the Bulldogs’ early lead.
The Bulldogs will conclude action in the DIRECTV Classic on Sunday, facing the Xavier Musketeers in the fifth place matchup at the Anaheim Convention Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CST and will broadcast on ESPNU. The matchup can also be heard on KRNT 1350 AM in Des Moines.
“I know Xavier pretty well and I’ve known Coach Mack for a long time,” Phelps said. “I know what they do and they have a great tradition. They play really hard and they’re going to be formidable and they have length and athleticism. It’s going to take our best effort on Sunday.”