DES MOINES – The Drake University men’s basketball team plays its final regular-season game of the 2012-13 season Saturday evening when it hosts Southern Illinois at 7:05 p.m. at the Knapp Center.
There is plenty at stake for the Bulldogs – who are aiming for their fourth straight win – as a victory over the Salukis, combined with an Illinois State loss, would vault the squad into the No. 6 seed and a first-round bye at next week’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
In addition to the game, the team’s three seniors – Ben Simons, Jordan Clarke and Chris Hines – will be honored prior to their final home game. Saturday will also serve as the program’s Alumni Day with former Drake greats playing in the annual Alumni Game at 5 p.m. and being honored at halftime.
At halftime, Drake legend Dolph Pulliam will be honored as the recipient of the Donald V. Adams Spirit of Drake award in his final game at Drake before his retirement in the spring after 24 years of devoted service to Drake. The first 1,000 fans through the Knapp Center doors starting at 6 p.m. will receive a commemorative Dolph Pulliam t-shirt. Click here to read more on Pulliam's honor and his illustrious Drake career.
“It’s a big night and all Bulldog fans need to get there early so they can get the full flavor of senior night,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said. “We’re going to honor three great seniors, guys like Jordan Clarke who he continues to sacrifice physically and give up his body for this basketball team, Ben Simons who has had a great career and Chris Hines, who trusted us with his last year of eligibility and decided to join the Bulldogs. It’s a special night and a chance for us to even our record and win our fourth game in a row heading into St. Louis.”
Standing in the Bulldogs’ way of their fourth straight win is a 13-16 Southern Illinois squad. The Salukis are 5-12 in the MVC, with all five wins coming at home, and are led by Desmar Jackson’s 15.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
Drake stands at 14-15 overall this season and 7-10 in the MVC thanks in large part to five players nearly averaging double-figure scoring with Ben Simons 14.4 points per game leading the way. The senior also ranks eighth in career scoring at Drake with 1,340 career points.
His classmate, Jordan Clarke, has provided a huge spark for the Bulldogs as of late with eight straight games in double-figure scoring with five double-doubles in that span. On the season he has 10 double-doubles, the second most in the MVC, and is second in the league in rebounding with 8.8 rebounds per game.
The Bulldogs have won eight straight games over the Salukis and handled SIU, 65-56, earlier this season in Carbondale, Ill.