Illinois State (10-7) at Drake (10-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Knapp Center (7,152) -- Des Moines, Iowa. Television: CSN-CHI, MC22. Home Record: Illinois St. 7-2, Drake 5-2. Away Record: Illinois St. 2-4, Drake 3-4. Neutral Record: Illinois St. 1-1, Drake 2-1. Conference Record: Illinois St. 3-2, Drake 1-4. Series Record: Illinois State leads, 49-29.
GAME NOTES: The Illinois State Redbirds aim for a third consecutive victory when they clash with the Drake Bulldogs in Missouri Valley Conference play tonight at the Knapp Center.
Even though the Redbirds have had some success to build upon, they have dropped their last three road contests. Their last away win came on Nov. 30 against San Francisco. Illinois State has won nine out of its last 12 games overall, including Wednesday's 79-78 overtime triumph over Evansville. Zach Lofton scored a career-high 21 points to go with six rebounds for the Redbirds. Daishon Knight had 16 points. Bobby Hunter added 10 points while Reggie Lynch had three blocks in ISU's seventh consecutive home win.
The Redbirds have three players averaging double figures in scoring, led by Knight (12.9 ppg), who nailed a clutch 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime in Wednesday's game. Lofton (11.9 ppg) and Hunter (10.1 ppg) are part of a four-guard starting lineup of a team that is shooting just 40.4 percent, the worst mark in the MVC.
Losers of four in a row, Drake is coming off a 70-60 defeat at Loyola-Chicago on Wednesday. Richard Carter tallied 19 points and five assists, Aaron Hawley poured in 12 points, and Jacob Enevold grabbed 11 rebounds.
Carter (17.9 ppg) paces the Bulldogs in scoring, while Jordan Daniels and Hawley have stepped up big time against MVC opponents. Both are averaging 14.6 ppg against league foes, and the two have combined to shoot 21-of-42 in conference contests. Seth VanDeest (5.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg), a 6-foot-11 center, is shooting 55.7 percent from the field. The Bulldogs are 10-0 when outrebounding their opponent this season, and Drake has a plus-2.4 rebounding margin, the second-best mark in the MVC. That could be a big difference in tonight's game, as the Redbirds are a minus-3.2 in rebounding margin.
The Redbirds, who play a 2-3 zone defense, are 7-1 this season when allowing fewer than 70 points. The problem is Illinois State has reached more than 70 points only once in its last six contests. Drake will likely hold the Redbirds under that mark again. The Bulldogs haven't lost five in a row since Dec. 19, 2009-Jan. 6, 2010, and that was a six-game skid. Expect Drake to come out on top.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drake 75, Illinois State 70
01/18 10:15:44 ET