Drake (8-3) at IUPUI (4-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 29, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: IUPUI Gymnasium (1,215) -- Indianapolis, Indiana. Television: WRTV6, HTSN. Home Record: Drake 4-1, IUPUI 3-3. Away Record: Drake 2-1, IUPUI 1-6. Neutral Record: Drake 2-1, IUPUI 0-2. Conference Record: Drake 0-0, IUPUI 0-0. Series Record: IUPUI leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The IUPUI Jaguars hope a return home can put an end to their losing skid, as they are set to tangle with the Drake Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon in a non-conference clash at IUPUI Gymnasium.
Drake has gotten off to a fast start this season, claiming wins in eight of its first 11 matchups. The Bulldogs fell into a mini funk earlier this month with back-to-back losses, but they have gotten back to their winning ways with two straight victories over Western Michigan (71-68) and Albany (71-63).
As for IUPUI, it has not been as fortunate, as it has waded through its non- conference schedule with just four wins in 15 tries. The Jaguars appeared to have turned the corner in early December with three consecutive wins, but that proved to be a mirage, as they have since dropped four in a row, most recently at Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 23, 83-79 in overtime.
The only previous meeting between these two squads came on Nov. 14, 2009, when IUPUI bested Drake, 88-82.
The Bulldogs led their most recent game versus Albany virtually wire-to-wire, and even though they saw their advantage dwindle to just one point in the final five minutes, they managed to hold on by shooting 46.2 percent from the floor (including 10-of-19 from 3-point range). Richard Carter added to his outstanding season by scoring 26 points on 7-of-13 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line, although no one else scored in double figures.
On the season, Drake has been impressive in all facets of the game, as it sports strong percentages from the field (.464), beyond the arc (.393) and the foul line (.741), while boasting positive margins in terms of scoring (+7.4), rebounding (+2.9) and turnovers (+1.4). Carter is one of the Missouri Valley Conference's most prolific scorers, pouring in 19.5 points per game. After missing the first eight games of the season, Jordan Daniels has returned to action to put up 13.7 points per game in three contests.
IUPUI led SEMO for most its latest game, including by as much as 13 points midway through the second half. But after slowly losing control down the stretch and falling victim to a game-tying 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation, it could not regain momentum in the extra session. The squad was nearly perfect from the free-throw line (25-of-26) but had a less than impressive field-goal shooting performance (.406), and only two of its field goals came from 3-point range. Marcellus Barksdale (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Ian Chiles (20 points) both shined in the setback. Mitch Patton was also stellar with 16 points and 13 boards, while Khufu Najee came off the bench to score 12.
The Jaguars typically aren't a strong offensive squad, as they shoot a mere 43.2 percent from the field for 69.2 points per game, 3.5 fewer points than they allow. Chiles (17.9 ppg), a 7-foot-2 center, defies big man stereotypes by grabbing just 4.1 rebounds per game and doing plenty of work from beyond the arc (21-of-72). Patton (12.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Najee (10.1 ppg) and Barksdale (8.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.3 bpg) are integral pieces to IUPUI's puzzle as well.
Although the Jaguars have the homecourt advantage and have held their own at IUPUI Gymnasium this season (3-3), Drake has simply been the more impressive team and should be able to overcome its road surroundings to pick up its third straight win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drake 78, IUPUI 70
12/29 10:33:09 ET