The Drake University men’s basketball team hosts Illinois State Wednesday evening for the second meeting between the two teams this season. Drake won the previous meeting, 82-77, in Normal, Ill. Tipoff for the game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Mediacom MC22 and will be a special ‘Whiteout’ game with free white Drake t-shirts available while supplies last. All fans are encouraged to wear white as well and create a unique homecourt advantage for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs’ win in Normal against the Redbirds last month jumpstarted a streak that has seen Drake win five of its last seven games to improve to 11-11 overall and 5-6 in the MVC. The Redbirds have been equally hot with four wins in their last five games to improve to 13-10 overall and 4-7 in the MVC. Illinois State is second in the league in scoring at 75.2 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting, but have been held to 68.9 points per game in league contests.
“They’re [Illinois State] definitely not the same team we saw in Normal a while back,” Drake senior Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich.) said. “Tyler Brown and Jackie Carmichael are two of the be best players in the league and it’s going to be a really good game here on Wednesday.”
Drake returns to action after topping Indiana State in overtime at the Knapp Center this past weekend. In the win, senior Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich.) recorded his fourth 20-point game of the season with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 4-of-5 from the three-point arc.
The Bulldogs shot 51.6 percent from the three-point arc last week and are now shooting 39.5 percent for the arc this season, the 19th highest average in the nation. The team is connecting on 8.8 three-pointers per game, the 10th most in the nation. Drake has made 10 or more three-pointers in a game eight times this season, the second most in the MVC.
“The season is a process of getting better each day and I feel like our team is doing that,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said of his team’s play of late. “We’re playing better at both ends of the court and the goal is to continue to play better. The team that improves over the course of the season has a chance to have a special ending and hopefully we can continue our good play.”
Senior Jordan Clarke (Rockville, Md.) is one of those players who has seen consistent improvement of late with back-to-back games in double-digit scoring and an average of 12 points and six rebounds last week while shooting 69.2 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line. Clarke had a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double last time the Bulldogs faced Illinois State.
Illinois State is led by All-MVC selection Jackie Carmichael who nearly averages a double-double with 17.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Tyler Brown, who did not play in the first meeting between the two teams, adds 15.5 points per game and leads the team with 43 three-pointers.
Following Wednesday’s game, Drake will hit the road, facing Evansville on Sunday. The 7 p.m. tipoff will broadcast on ESPNU.