Drake (10-3) at Bradley (5-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carver Arena (11,094) -- Peoria, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Drake 5-1, Bradley 5-3. Away Record: Drake 3-1, Bradley 0-4. Neutral Record: Drake 2-1, Bradley 0-2. Conference Record: Drake 1-0, Bradley 0-1. Series Record: Bradley leads, 80-58.
GAME NOTES: Drake seeks its first five-game win streak in nearly three years when the Bulldogs take on the struggling Bradley Braves in Missouri Valley Conference action on Saturday night.
A victory would give Drake its first successful five-game run since Jan. 9-23, 2010. Meanwhile, the Braves are trying to halt a seven-game skid. Bradley hasn't posted a victory since Nov. 30 against Texas-Pan American.
This game also marks a homecoming for Peoria native and Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti, who is in his first year at the helm of the Bulldogs. He is a graduate of East Peoria High School.
The Bulldogs throttled Evansville, 94-66, on New Year's Day. Jordan Daniels scored a game-high 28 points. Richard Carter dropped in 19 points for Drake. Aaron Hawley hit 5-of-6 from the floor off the bench to finish with 12 points, and Chris Caird chipped in with 10. Seth VanDeest collected 10 rebounds in Drake's first conference game of the season.
Drake has been on a roll mainly due to its strong presence on the boards. The Bulldogs have outrebounded their opponents by an average of 7.8 rpg during the victory streak. Drake is giving up just 65.8 ppg, which is second-best in the MVC. The Bulldogs are also shooting 40.2 percent from 3-point range, again No. 2 in the conference. Now though, they face a Bradley team that has limited opponents to 29.3 percent from beyond the arc, the top mark in the league. Carter leads the Bulldogs (18.5 ppg) in scoring. He is followed by Daniels (16.8 ppg). Chris Caird (9.8 ppg) is also part of the starting lineup, and VanDeest (5.2 rpg) along with Jacob Enevold (5.5 rpg) lead the team on the glass.
Bradley was blown out at Northern Iowa, 80-46, on Wednesday. Walt Lemon Jr. scored 17 points and Omari Grier contributed 10 for the Braves, who have lost nine of their last 10 games. Bradley is averaging 64.7 ppg, which is last in the MVC. Lemon, though, has the fifth-best (15.2 ppg) average in the conference. Tyshon Pickett (7.1 rpg) is near the top in rebounding. Forward Auston Barnes (9.8 ppg) is a solid shooter, and Nate Wells, a 7-foot-1 sophomore center, has started each of Bradley's last two games, but is averaging less than a point and a rebound this season.
The Bulldogs, who are off to their best start since 2007-08 and have held a rebounding advantage in all 10 of their wins, should be able to use their power inside to beat the Braves. It would also be a special victory for Giacoletti, who would become just the second coach in Drake history to begin his tenure at the school with a record of 11-3 or better. On the flip side, Drake's last win in Carver Arena came on Feb. 15, 2012, and they are 7-25 all- time in the venue.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drake 69, Bradley 65
01/04 20:56:18 ET