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Drake (6-9) at Illinois State (9-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 12, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Redbird Arena (10,200) -- Normal, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Drake 4-3, Illinois State 6-3. Away Record: Drake 1-3, Illinois State 2-3. Neutral Record: Drake 1-3, Illinois State 1-1. Conference Record: Drake 0-4, Illinois State 0-4. Series Record: Illinois State leads, 48-28.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams still in search of their first conference victory meet as the Drake Bulldogs take on the Illinois State Redbirds in a Missouri Valley Conference bout at Redbird Arena.
In its fourth straight loss on Tuesday Drake was routed 91-61 by No. 13 Creighton on the road. All four of those setbacks have come in league play for the Bulldogs who are just 6-9 overall. Drake has just a single win in four tries on the road. The Bulldogs will return home for their next contest when they face Evansville.
Illinois State has also lost four straight, all against conference foes, after a 62-55 defeat to Missouri State last time out. The Redbirds are now 9-7 after a promising start to the season. The overall ledger for Illinois State includes a solid 6-3 mark at home, although the Redbirds have lost their last two at Redbird Arena. Next up for Illinois State is a stern test against No. 23 Wichita State.
Last season these teams split the series with the home team victorious in each instance. Illinois State leads the all-time series, 48-28.
Drake was run off the court against Creighton on Tuesday. The Bulldogs put up little defensive resistance as the Bluejays shot 64.2 percent from the field, including a 16-of-27 effort from beyond the arc in the 30-point romp. The Bulldogs shot just 35.6 percent from the field themselves.
Scoring hasn't really been the issue for Drake this season as the Bulldogs are ranked third in the MVC in points per game (72.3). On the defensive end Drake has been having much less success. The Bulldogs are allowing 73.5 points per game. Drake is also a weak rebounding team ranking dead last in the conference (30.7 pg). Pacing Drake this season is versatile forward Ben Simons. The 6- foot-8 senior leads the team in scoring (13.9 ppg) doing so primarily with shots from 3-point range, where he shoots 37.4 percent. Simons has struggled recently, failing to score in double figures in two of the last three games. Seth VanDeest (10.6 ppg) is also scoring in double figures, while Jordan Clarke (8.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg) is the most productive rebounder.
In its loss to Missouri State, Illinois State shot just 40.0 percent from the field including a 4-of-17 effort from beyond the arc. On the defensive end of the floor the Redbirds allowed the Bears to shoot 46.8 percent, including 7- of-16 from 3-point range.
The poor offensive showing by Illinois State was out of the ordinary for the Redbirds. On the season the Redbirds are ranked second in the MVC in scoring (77.1 ppg), field goal percentage (.484) and assists (17.1 pg). Those marks are all among the 40 best in the country. Powering the team from the interior is Jackie Carmichael (17.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg) who is coming off a 21-point, 12- rebound double-double against Missouri State. It was the fifth double-double in the last six games for Carmichael. Tyler Brown (15.3 ppg) has provided a nice complement in the backcourt.
With Carmichael and Brown back on their home court they should be able to get Illinois State back on track offensively and collect that first conference victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois State 76, Drake 64
01/12 10:31:48 ET