Drake (10-8) at Southern Illinois (6-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 22, 8:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: SIU Arena (8,339) -- Carbondale, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Drake 5-3, SIU 4-4. Away Record: Drake 3-4, SIU 1-7. Neutral Record: Drake 2-1, SIU 1-2. Conference Record: Drake 1-5, SIU 2-4. Series Record: Southern Illinois leads, 52-29.
GAME NOTES: The Drake Bulldogs will try to put an end to their season-long losing streak on Wednesday night, as they head to SIU Arena for a Missouri Valley Conference showdown with the Southern Illinois Salukis.
After Drake won its MVC opener versus Evansville back on Jan. 1 (94-66), it was riding high at 10-5 overall, but since then it has gone into a tailspin with five straight setbacks. The Bulldogs most recently hosted Illinois State on Saturday night and were sluggish in a disappointing 77-63 defeat.
SIU too has struggled in league action, winning just two of its six MVC matchups, with its most recent contest at Bradley last Friday night ending in a 66-60 loss. The Salukis have failed to gain any momentum this season, going just 6-13 overall, which includes a mediocre a 4-4 mark on their home floor.
The Salukis have a 52-29 advantage in the all-time series with the Bulldogs, although Drake has won eight of the last nine meetings, including five in a row at SIU Arena.
The Bulldogs fell behind Illinois State by 17 at the half over the weekend, and while they cut that deficit to just six midway through the second half, they would get no closer. They shot just 34.8 percent from the field and had the same number of field goals as turnovers (16), and the loss would have been even worse had they not managed to shoot 24-of-30 from the free-throw line. Richard Carter was the primary benefactor as the stripe, going 9-of-10 on his way to a game-high 24 points to go with four steals. Aaron Hawley was the only other player to finish in double figures with 14 points.
Despite averaging a mere 63.8 ppg during its current losing streak, Drake has nonetheless been largely impressive on the offensive end of the floor this season, shooting 45.7 percent from the field for 72.6 ppg, 4.6 ppg more than it allows. Carter is the unquestioned go-to option with 18.3 ppg even though his field goal percentage is modest at best (.423). Jordan Daniels brings 13.2 ppg and 3.6 apg to the table, while Hawley (9.8 ppg) and Chris Caird (8.8 ppg) are also stellar.
The Salukis were locked up in a tight battle with Bradley in their latest contest and even tied the game at 54 with under four minutes to play, but they fell victim to a 9-2 Bradley run to lose control of the game down the stretch. Their .561 field goal percentage certainly kept them in it, but they were just 4-of-13 from 3-point range and 10-of-19 at the foul line. Desmar Jackson led the way with 17 points and eight rebounds, but he also committed six turnovers and fouled out late. Anthony Beane scored 15 points on 3-of-4 from 3-point range, while Sean O'Brien registered 13 points and eight rebounds.
On the season, SIU actually outshoots its opponents from the field, 46.9 percent to 44.3 percent, but it still has a -1.9 scoring margin since that success hasn't translated to beyond the arc (4.1 3-pointers per game at a 30.1 percent clip) or the foul line (.692). Jackson ranks among the nation's best in scoring with 20.4 ppg and is also a great perimeter defender with more than two steals per tilt. Jalen Pendleton (11.3 ppg) and Beane (11.1 ppg) chip in on a regular basis as well.
Drake hasn't been itself lately, so a contest against an underwhelming SIU squad is a good recipe to get back on the winning track.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drake 70, Southern Illinois 65
01/22 10:39:39 ET