The Drake University men’s basketball team takes to the road for its second meeting of the season against Missouri State on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. The game will broadcast live from JQH Arena via ESPN3 and on radio in Des Moines on 1350-AM KRNT.
The Bulldogs (9-10, 3-5 MVC) travel to Springfield fresh off of a 74-69 upset over No. 17/12 Creighton on Wednesday evening. The win was the Bulldogs’ third in its last four games to improve to 9-10 overall and 3-5 in the MVC.
One of those MVC losses came in the first meeting with the Bears’ ( 5-15 , 3-5 MVC) this season, a 77-65, loss at the Knapp Center on Jan. 5 in which MSU’s Anthony Downing scored 24 points.
“We didn’t come out with the energy we needed to get the win,” senior Jordan Clarke said of the first meeting this season. “We didn’t rebound and play defense like we were supposed to. If we can fix those things, I think we can have success”
Downing leads the Bears with 14.2 points per game while the team averages just 59.3 points per outing. However, the team’s defense has held opponents to 63.5 points per game with just one conference opponent, Creighton, scoring 70 or more points against the Bears.
“They’re a team that’s way better than their record,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said. “Obviously we have a lot of respect for them because we lost to them at home. They play really hard and have a player in Anthony Downing who, if he gets hot, is capable of winning a game by himself.”
In its last outing, Drake’s defense held Creighton 10 points below its season average and limited the nation’s top three-point shooting team to just five makes on 23.8 percent shooting. Richard Carter led Drake in that win with a career-high 20 points. The junior point guard is averaging 16.3 points per game and has shot 6-of-9 from the arc in the last three games.
“Like every game, you try to carry the things the things that you can learn from each game,” Phelps said of the effect of the win over Creighton. “The win helps justify that when we play the right way we can win any game on our schedule. The losses are evidence that when we don’t, we can lose any game.”
Which team can impose its pace will be one of the key factors in the game as the Bulldogs are averaging 71.5 possessions per game, the fastest pace in the MVC. In conference games, the squad is playing at a 71.8 possession pace, easily the fastest in league games. However, MSU plays at a 62 possessions per game pace, the 13th slowest pace in the nation.
Drake’s reserves have also been a key component to the team’s last three wins as the bench has outscored its opponents’ reserves in each of the last four games by a 108-57 margin. Against Creighton, the bench stepped up with 43 points as Jeremy Jeffers and Daddy Ugbede chipped in 11 and 12 points, respectively.
Following Sunday’s contest, the team will remain on the road for its first meeting of the season against Southern Illinois on Jan. 30. The squad returns to the Knapp Center on Feb. 2 to host Indiana State at 6:35 p.m.