Missouri State (3-11) at Drake (6-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 5, 8:05 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Knapp Center (7,152) -- Des Moines, Iowa. Television: Mediacom. Home Record: MSU 3-4, Drake 4-2. Away Record: MSU 0-5, Drake 1-2. Neutral Record: MSU 0-2, Drake 1-3. Conference Record: MSU 1-1, Drake 0-2. Series Record: MSU leads, 35-10.
GAME NOTES: The Drake Bulldogs look to notch their first Missouri Valley Conference victory of the season when they host the Missouri State Bears at the Knapp Center.
Drake opened MVC play last Saturday with a 67-57 setback at Bradley, then followed that up with a 75-63 home loss to Wichita State this past Wednesday. The Bulldogs could certainly use a win here before hitting the road for five of their next seven outings, all in league play.
Meanwhile, Missouri State is winless in seven tries outside of Springfield this season. The Bears have dropped nine of their last 10 contests, although the lone victory came in their league opener against Southern Illinois on Sunday. However, they were then dealt a tough 62-59 overtime loss at Evansville on Wednesday.
MSU holds a commanding 35-10 edge in the head-to-head series, and that includes five straight victories over Drake.
Missouri State put up a tough fight on the road at Evansville. Trailing by four in the final seconds of regulation, Nathan Scheer scored a bucket with 7.6 to play, and then Anthony Downing stole the inbound pass and tied it up with a layup with 4.4 seconds remaining to force overtime. However, Evansville knocked down 5-of-8 field goals in the extra session, including the deciding basket with 5.4 seconds left. Downing finished with team-highs of 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the loss, while Scheer scored 10 points. Despite their struggles, the Bears actually rank among the national leaders in fewest turnovers (10.9, 13th) and 3-point field-goal percentage defense (.290, 44th). They held Evansville to 2-of-15 shooting from beyond the arc in Wednesday's loss. However, as has often been the case, MSU simply did not bring enough offense. Scheer is the only player averaging double figures with 12.5 points per game, as the Bears are shooting just 38.6 percent from the floor as a team while posting an average of 58.4 points.
Drake has had no such problems, posting a healthy 73.7 ppg behind 45.3-percent shooting. However, the Bulldogs have also allowed opponents to put up 71.9 ppg and shoot 44 percent, resulting in several shootouts already this season. Ben Simons leads the way with 14.5 ppg and has knocked down a team-high 34 threes (.378) through 13 contests. Seth VanDeest, a 61-percent shooter from the floor, is tallying 11.3 ppg to go along with 4.7 rebounds per tilt. All told, seven different Bulldogs are averaging at least 6.0 points. However, the team has struggled in its first two MVC contests, scoring only 57 and 63 points, respectively. Against Wichita State earlier this week, the Bulldogs shot just 7-of-25 from the perimeter (.280) in addition to committing 19 turnovers on their home floor. Joey King scored a team-high 15 points to go along with six rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench, while Micah Mason joined him in double figures with 14 points in the loss.
Both of these teams are trying to make the case that they are better than their respective records. The Bears are a disciplined team that does not commit careless turnovers and plays solid defense. However, they simply lack the scoring punch to keep pace with an offensive-minded squad like Drake, particularly on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drake 69, Missouri State 61
01/05 10:35:22 ET