RENO, Nev. – The Drake University men’s basketball team closes out its five-game road swing on Friday night at Nevada as part of the Missouri Valley/Mountain West Challenge. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. CST and will be aired on 1350-AM KRNT.
The Bulldogs travel to Reno, Nev., with a 2-3 record after going 1-2 at the DirecTV Classic last weekend. The team's two losses came to tournament champion Cal and perennial NCAA tournament participant Xavier by a combined seven points. Jordan Clarke led Drake at the DirecTV Classic by recording three straight double-doubles to earn all-tournament honors. He also set DirecTV Classic records for total rebounds (39) and rebounds in a game (18).
“As a team, we’re getting better and making improvements,” head coach Mark Phelps said. “There have been short stretches in game where we haven’t executed and haven’t demonstrated the toughness that we typically do and that has been our undoing, especially in the games against Cal and Xavier.”
Nevada is 4-2 on the season and a perfect 4-0 at home after defeating UC Davis, 84-83, on a last-second shot from Deonte Burton. Burton scored 26 points in the win and leads the team with 19.0 points per game. The Wolf Pack won 28 games last season and claimed the Western Athletic Conference regular season title to advance to the NIT before moving to the Mountain West Conference this season.
“Nevada is very talented and they have a one-two punch similar to Cal in Deonte Burton and Malik Story,” Phelps said. “They’re on the perimeter with one at the point and one on the wing and they score a lot. At home, they’ve been terrific, so going to Reno will be a challenge for us.”
Friday’s game will feature two-high scoring offenses as Drake averages 78.4 points per game while the Wolf Pack has scored at a 76.7 points per game clip. Ben Simons leads that Bulldog offense in scoring with 17.4 points per game and a pair of 20-point performances already under his belt this season.
Drake and Nevada have met three previous times, but not since 1969. Drake leads the series by a 3-0 margin and last visited Reno on Dec. 21, 1968.
Following Friday’s game, Drake returns home to host perennial NCAA participant St. Mary’s on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the Knapp Center. Tipoff against the Gaels is set for 7:05 p.m.