DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake University men’s basketball team returns to the Knapp Center for just its second home game of the season to host perennial NCAA participant St. Mary’s Wednesday evening at 7:05 p.m.
The game is a non-bracketed contest that is part of the DirecTV Classic which both teams competed in, but did not meet, two weeks ago. The Gaels travel to Des Moines as one of the nation’s most consistent programs, having won 25 games in each of the last five seasons, a feat accomplished by just four other programs in the nation. During that span, St. Mary’s has advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times and made it to the Sweet 16 in 2010.
“They play basketball the right way,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said of St. Mary’s. “They’re going to run in transition, but they’re not going to be reckless. They’ve got a great player in Matthew Dellavedova and have size. They can beat you in a lot of different ways. Whatever it takes, they have an answer for and that’s what makes them a great challenge. They know what wins. It’s a great opportunity to test our team against one of the better teams in the country and give our fans a marquee non-conference home game.”
Dellavedova, an Australian Olympian and defending West Coast Conference Player of the Year leads St. Mary’s with 16.6 points and 5.4 assists per game to help the squad to a 5-2 record this season.
The Bulldogs return home with a 3-3 record after claiming a 76-66 win on the road at Nevada last Friday behind 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists from point guard Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.)
Drake’s offense has averaged 78 points per game and the Bulldogs’ sharpshooters are averaging 10 three-pointers per game, the third most in the country and are converting at a 44.1 percent clip to rank fourth.
While the perimeter offense has generated points, senior Jordan Clarke (Rockville, Md.) has recorded four double-doubles in six games and is averaging 12.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season. He ranks 19th nationally in rebounding and fourth in double-doubles. His work on the glass, especially on offense, has helped Drake outscore its last three opponents by a 41-14 margin in second chance points.