Drake (9-10) at Missouri State (5-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, January 27, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: JQH Arena (11,000) -- Springfield, Missouri. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Drake 6-3, Missouri State 4-6. Away Record: Drake 2-4, Missouri State 1-7. Neutral Record: Drake 1-3, Missouri State 0-2. Conference Record: Drake 3-5, Missouri State 3-5. Series Record: Missouri State leads, 36-10.
GAME NOTES: The Missouri State Bears try to bring an end to a four-game slide on Sunday afternoon, as they host the Drake Bulldogs in Missouri Valley Conference action at JQH Arena.
On Wednesday night, the Bears fell to 3-5 in conference play when they bowed to Wichita State in a 62-52 final at home. The defeat dropped the team to 4-6 in their own building and 5-15 overall. The only two non-conference victories came back in November against opponents outside of the Division I ranks (Philander Smith and Malone).
As for the Bulldogs, they too are 3-5 in conference this season, but the squad did have more success against opponents outside of the MVC. Four nights ago, Drake took on nationally-ranked Creighton, and somehow the Bulldogs found the secret to taking down a top-flight opponent as they posted a 74-69 victory at home. The win was the third in the last four outings for Drake.
Missouri State is ahead in the all-time series by a count of 36-10, posting a 77-65 victory in the most recent encounter earlier this month. In that contest, Anthony Downing scored a season-high 24 points for the Bears as they shot an impressive 51.0 percent from the floor in posting their first and still only road win of the season.
The Drake defense was put to the test by Creighton's Doug McDermott, an All- American who is used to having his way with almost any and all opponents. While the Bulldogs allowed McDermott 17 points in the first half, they took him out of the equation in the final 20 minutes as he tallied just two points in the frame. The offense for the Bulldogs was led by Richard Carter who scored 20 points off the bench, Ben Simons and Jeremy Jeffers added 13 points apiece, and Daddy Ugbede posted 12 for the victors. One of the more balanced offensive teams you'll find in college basketball these days, Drake has just one player scoring in double figures as Simons drops in 14.2 ppg, yet the group is still producing a solid 72.5 ppg nonetheless. There are five other players netting at least 7.3 ppg and as Ugbede (2.9 ppg) showed against Creighton, you never know who might step out of their comfort zone and have a big game for the Bulldogs.
Considering Wichita State is ranked 20th in the nation, the Bears didn't do all that bad as they lost by just 10 points in their last outing. If there is such a thing as a moral victory, Missouri State held the Shockers to only 37.0 percent shooting from the floor and 5-of-21 out on the perimeter. Unfortunately, the lackluster effort beyond the arc was also matched by the MSU shooters who finished at 32.8 percent from the field overall. Gavin Thurman posted a team-best 21 points, followed by Anthony Downing with 14 points, but the latter missed all six of his 3-point tries. A starter in all 20 games for the Bears this season, Downing is the long double-digit scorer on the roster with his 14.2 ppg, although Marcus Marshall is close with 9.7 ppg despite his mere 38.4 percent shooting from the floor these days. As a collective unit, the Bears (59.3 ppg) are connecting on only 39.9 percent from the field.
Coming off a high after downing Creighton, the Bulldogs might have trouble getting motivated for this meeting. However, the fact that the only road win of the season for the Bears came against Drake should be motivation enough to take care of business this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drake 71, Missouri State 62
01/27 10:33:14 ET