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DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake University men’s basketball team opens up the Missouri Valley Conference schedule Saturday evening at Bradley. Tipoff at Carver Arena is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with the contest being broadcast over the airwaves in Des Moines on 1350-AM KRNT.

Drake begins conference play with a 6-5 record after defeating Eastern Illinois, 74-56, in its last outing before the holiday break. That game saw Micah Mason, in his second career start, explode for a career-high 19 points on 5-of-6 three-point shooting with six assists.

“It is a new beginning in a lot of ways,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said of the start of MVC play. “Everyone has to step their level of play up. It’s a time to take what we have learned and raise our level of play, focus and intensity.”

Bradley begins conference play at 8-4 after falling to Portland Sunday evening as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic. The Braves are 6-1 on their home court this season with the lone loss coming to a top-10 program in Michigan.

Walt Lemon, Jr. and Tyshon Pickett lead the Braves with approximately 12.5 points per game each with Pickett adding 7.2 rebounds per game.

Drake is averaging 76.2 points per game to rank 50th nationally in scoring with a lot of those points coming from the three-point line as the Bulldogs are second in the nation in three-point shooting at 43.5 percent and fourth in three-pointers with 9.5 per game.

Ben Simons leads Drake with 15.2 points per game after hitting three three-pointers in the last game. The senior continues to move up the Drake career scoring ranks with 1,089 points to rank 16th.

Saturday’s game is the 133rd between the two programs after Drake won all three meetings last season. Despite the three-game win streak over the Braves, Phelps and company are quick to dismiss last season’s accomplishments as they relate to this meeting.

“Everything is new,” Phelps said. “They have new players, we have new players. Coach Ford is a terrific coach with another year under his belt. I don’t think it really has a bearing, that we played three times last year, both of us are approaching it as a new beginning.”

Following Saturday’s game, Drake returns to the Knapp Center to host Wichita State on Wednesday evening at 7:05 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets for the Bulldogs’ MVC home opener.


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