Drake (11-12) at Evansville (13-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, February 10, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Center (10,000) -- Evansville, Indiana. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Drake 7-4, Evansville 11-2. Away Record: Drake 3-5, Evansville 2-9. Neutral Record: Drake 1-3, Evansville 0-0. Conference Record: Drake 5-7, Evansville 6-6. Series Record: Series is tied, 19-19.
GAME NOTES: Both the Drake Bulldogs and the Evansville Purple Aces try to rebound from losses when the Missouri Valley Conference foes meet at the Ford Center on Sunday night.
After winning its previous two games, Drake was trying to move to .500 on the season in a home clash with Illinois State on Wednesday night, but it ultimately lost control of a late lead and dropped the shootout by a 94-86 margin. The Bulldogs have been slightly below average this season at 11-12 overall and 5-7 in the MVC, although they've won five of eight since Jan. 12.
Meanwhile, Evansville has been trending in the opposite direction, losing two in a row and five of its past seven to drop to 13-11 and 6-6 in conference action. The Purple Aces most recently fell at Bradley on Tuesday, 76-70, but now they return home where they've won 11 of 13 games this season.
Drake won a home contest against Evansville on Jan. 16, 83-69, to even the all-time series at 19-19.
Drake started its latest contest red-hot, getting out to a 42-25 advantage with under six minutes to play in the first half and it continued to lead late in the game, but Illinois State caught fire down the stretch, going on a 23-5 run in the final 6:09 to saddle the Bulldogs with the defeat. Pacing five players in double figures for Drake was Richard Carter, who netted 17 points to go along with six assists. Chris Hines shot 4-of-7 from 3-point range en route to 16 points, Jordan Clarke tallied a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Ben Simons and Joey King netted 13 and 11 points, respectively. Drake's last outing was a microcosm of its season, as it scores plenty of points (72.7 ppg) but allows even more to its opponents (74.0 ppg). Simons in the only Bulldog averaging double figures with 14.3 ppg, but Hines, Carter, Clarke and Seth VanDeest all net between 8.9 and 9.4 ppg, with Clarke also corralling a team-best 8.1 rpg.
Evansville tied the game against Bradley with 1:33 left on a Colt Ryan 3- pointer, but it would go scoreless the rest of the way as it was handed a six- point road loss. Ryan was outstanding in defeat, shooting 10-of-22 from the field for 27 points for his third consecutive 20-point effort and 11th of the season. DJ Balentine added 13 points off the bench, and Ned Cox chipped in 10 points and in the process became the program's 45th member of the 1,000-point scorer's club. On the season, the Purple Aces are one of the more well- balanced teams in the MVC, pouring in nearly 68 ppg while holding foes under 65 ppg. They also maintain an impressive +3.4 turnover margin. Ryan is the league's second-leading scorer, putting up 18.2 ppg while also registering team-highs in assists (4.0 apg), steals (1.5 spg) and free-throw percentage (.898). Cox brings 11.0 ppg and a .415 3-point field goal percentage to the table.
Drake can score, but its porous defense will ultimately keep it from being a serious contender in the MVC. At home, the Purple Aces should be able to get back on the winning track.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Evansville 78, Drake 72
02/10 10:31:00 ET