GAME NOTES: The Drake Bulldogs will wrap up their brief two-game home stand on Saturday night when they host the IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons at the Drake Knapp Center in Des Moines.
IPFW has been average through its first 10 games with five wins and five losses. The Mastodons have been on the losing end more often than not lately, having dropped two of their last three, most recently at Valparaiso on Wednesday, 63-52.
Drake too has been inconsistent through the first month of the season, but it has put together a mini-run in the past week with back-to-back wins. The Bulldogs hosted Saint Mary's on Wednesday as part of the DirecTV Classic and they came away with a very impressive 88-73 victory.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.
Points have been hard to come by for IPFW this season, as it shoots just 40.4 percent from the field in posting 65.4 ppg, and things were even worse in its latest loss to Valpo. The Mastodons shot just 31.4 percent from the floor, committing just as many turnovers as they had field goals (16). The off night shooting spoiled an impressive performance at the defensive end, as they held the Crusaders to less than 41 percent shooting. Frank Gaines was ice cold shooting the ball (5-of-14), but four of those field goals came from long range as he put up a team-best 19 points. The performance was no accident by Gaines, as he is one of the Summit League's best scorers at 19.2 ppg, although he has committed a team-high 29 turnovers to go with only nine assists. Mario Hines averages 9.3 ppg and 6.2 rpg, and as a team IPFW has controlled the glass by outrebounding its opponents by nearly 8 rpg.
Drake put forth one of its best performances of the young season against a very good Saint Mary's squad, as it shot 56.7 percent from the field (including 11-of-26 from three-point range) while holding the Gaels to less than 42 percent shooting in the 15-point victory. Jeremy Jeffers came off the bench to pace the Bulldogs with 16 points, while Seth VanDeest scored 15 points, and Ben Simons chipped in with 11 points and four steals. The great shooting night wasn't entirely out of character for Drake, as it makes good on 45.6 percent of its field goal attempts for more than 77 ppg this season. Simons is the team's leading scorer with 15.6 ppg, and he has drained more than twice as many three-pointers than his closest teammate (20-of-48). Jordan Clarke (11.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg) has been a double-double threat on a nightly basis, shooting nearly 57 percent from the field in the process. Richard Carter (10.9 ppg) and VanDeest (10.7 ppg) round out a very balanced attack for the Bulldogs, with the former also dishing out 3.9 apg.
IPFW hasn't been a very good team away from home this season, and its inconsistencies are sure to continue as it plays a pair of road games in the span of three days. Drake put together perhaps its best all-around game against Saint Mary's, and it will ride that momentum into this matchup.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drake 79, IUPU-Fort Wayne 65
12/08 10:35:37 ET
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