The Drake University men’s basketball team aims for its third straight win when it visits in-state rival UNI Sunday afternoon. Tipoff at the McLeod Center is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be carried online via ESPN3.com. The game will also be broadcast on radio as always on KRNT 1350-AM.
The Bulldogs improved to 2-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference and 8-9 overall with an 83-69 win over Evansville on Wednesday. The Panthers are also 2-4 in the league and 9-9 overall after falling at Creighton on Tuesday by a 79-68 margin.
Drake’s offense has pushed the tempo in its last two wins, averaging 78.5 possessions per game while scoring 82.5 points per game in those two wins to up its already league-leading pace. The Panthers, who play at a more moderate 66 possessions per game pace will naturally try to slow the Bulldogs down.
“They’re the same UNI Panthers as always; they have a great coach, they play hard and they don’t beat themselves,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said of Sunday’s opponent. “I expect a very tough, physical game. That’s who they are and that’s what these games are typically like.”
While the offense has put up points, it’s the defense that has secured those wins by holding Illinois State and Evansville to 38.2 percent shooting from the field and 30.8 percent from the three-point arc.
However, Phelps expects that defense to be tested by UNI’s methodical approach on offense.
“I think they’re [UNI] very disciplined and very patient,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said of the Panthers. “They don’t beat themselves, so you have to remain patient to have a chance to defend them each possession.”
Offensively, the Bulldogs’ three-point shooting returned to form in the last two games to move Drake to 14th nationally in three-point percentage at 39.6 percent and seventh in three-pointers per game at 8.9 for the season.
That offense has been buoyed by back-to-back stellar games from senior Chris Hines with 44 points in the last two wins.
“He’s scored for us well and I think he’s put a great deal of focus on the defensive end,” Phelps said of Hines. “That’s allowed him to play with a free mind on the offensive end and he’s shooting well. When those things happen, your confidence goes up.”
UNI has four players averaging double figures with Anthony James’ 12.5 points leading the way. Seth Tuttle adds 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
The teams have met 60 previous times with UNI leading the series, 36-24. However, the series is tied at 3-3 at the McLeod Center.
Following Sunday’s game, the Bulldogs return home to host nationally ranked Creighton on Wednesday evening. Tipoff at the Knapp Center is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and will be broadcast on FSN. Click here to get your tickets for Wednesday’s game.