GAME NOTES: In a Missouri Valley Conference matchup, the Drake Bulldogs will travel to Carbondale to face off against the Southern Illinois Salukis on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs most recently suffered a 78-72 loss at Missouri State. However, after starting off conference-play with four straight losses, Drake has won three of the last four games, including a 74-69 win over the 21st-ranked Creighton Bluejays.
The Salukis are coming off a pounding by the Bluejays, an 81-51 loss. It was the fourth loss in a row for SIU and ninth loss in their last ten games. This 1-8 start in conference play is the worst for the Salukis since 1981, when the team went 0-16 in league competition.
While SIU leads the all-time series 51-28, the Bulldogs have won eight of the last 10 matchups, including the last seven in a row. The Salukis have been defeated by Drake the past four times at SIU Arena, losing twice in overtime. The most recent game was a 78-63 win for Drake at the Knapp Center.
Against Missouri State, Ben Simons shot 8-of-12 from the field and finished with 19 points, while Micah Mason added 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3- point range. Seth VanDeest contributed 12 points and eight rebounds and Jordan Clarke managed nine points and 11 rebounds. Simons is the only player averaging in double-figure scoring for the Bulldogs this season, putting up 14.4 ppg. VanDeest has been very effective, shooting 57.3 percent from the floor but only scoring 9.7 ppg. The squad scores 72.5 ppg despite having only one player average double figures, but their lack of defensive play has been their downfall this season. Drake allows opponents to score 74.1 ppg (313th nationally).
Desmar Jackson was the only Saluki to score in double digits in the loss to Creighton. Jackson scored 16 points, shooting 3-of-6 from long range. SIU was outrebounded 39-19 against the Bluejays. Jackson has been the lead scorer for the Salukis all season long at 16.3 ppg. Jeff Early adds 12.7 ppg on 50.8 percent shooting from the field to go with 7.5 rpg. Dantiel Daniels shoots an incredible 65.3 percent from the field, adding 9.6 ppg. Opponents have shot efficiently against SIU, making 46.9 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from 3-point range.
These two teams rank at the bottom two slots of the MVC and are both looking to prove they can battle with the rest of the conference. Drake has shown flashes of potential this season and needs to take care of business in matchups like this in order to continue to build.