Drake Bulldogs vs. Wichita State Shockers - 1/25/14
Wichita State Shockers (20-0) at Drake Bulldogs (11-8)
College Basketball: Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 8:05 pm (Knapp Center)
The Line: Drake Bulldogs +10.5 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds
The Drake Bulldogs will be licking their chops at the possibility of handing the #5 Wichita State Shockers their first loss of the season as they play host on Saturday night in Des Moines, Iowa.
Drake can breathe a sigh of relief as they ended a 5-game losing streak on the road at Southern Illinois – a three-point win to move to 2-5 in the MVC. There has not been a lot to cheer about during the 5-game skid, even losing 2 at home where they are normally good. Free throw shooting has been a big part of the Bulldogs pulling out close games, which held true on Wednesday against the Salukis, as they netted 19 of 23, while SIU hit only 60% of theirs. Senior Richard Carter has led them in scoring in the majority of games and comes into this one with 17.9 ppg, followed by sophomore Jordan Daniels at 12.7 ppg. Drake has just 1 player with 5 or more rebounds so they need to get all hands on deck to clean the boards against and excellent rebounding team. First year head coach Ray Giacoletti had success early in the season, but it seems the newcomers are having trouble adjusting to the league, although it is a bit down this year. When conference play rolls around though, teams are more prepared and battle harder as games are typically more significant.
Shocker fans once again found themselves in an uncomfortable position at halftime, as the Shockers trailed by 3 at the half at Illinois State. But if you knew they outscored their opponents by 200+ in the 2nd half of games, there was no need to panic. They took care of business in the 2nd half and cruised to an easy 70-55 victory. Cleanthony Early was the go-to guy again, as he knocked down 6 three-pointers, scoring 23 points and pulling down 10 boards. He leads the Shockers in scoring at 15.5 ppg. He is helped all around though, as sophomores Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet continue to be solid game after game, playing with poise and gritiness – really a reflection of the entire team. They actually got outrebounded by 5 against the ‘Birds, but they have been dominant on the glass this year with about a +8.0 rebounding margin. Head coach Gregg Marshall has been a master of finding combinations on the court that work in his tenure at Wichita State, which includes an NIT championship (2011) and a Final 4 appearance last year. They are striving to streak through the Valley season on their way to a perfect regular season. The only worry from a statistical point of view is that have a fairly low field goal percentage (44.5%), but they do all the other things well to win, and to be honest, with the toughness this team plays with, 40% should be good enough.
I have witnessed a few upsets from Drake at home in the past 5 years that make you scratch your head and say, “Huh?”, but for the Bulldogs to do it on this night to one of the best teams in the country would be the biggest head scratcher of them all. There may be a couple thousand more in attendance to see a ranked team visit, but this is not one of the most intimidating home crowds. Wichita is better on all fronts and the only way the Bulldogs hang in this one is if they hit a lot of 3-pointers.