Drake (15-12) at New Mexico State (19-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 18th, 3:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pan American Center (12,482) -- Las Cruces, New Mexico. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Drake 11-3, NMSU 11-3. Away Record: Drake 3-7, NMSU 6-4. Neutral Record: Drake 1-2, NMSU 2-1. Conference Record: Drake 8-8, NMSU 7-3. Series Record: New Mexico State leads, 16-9
GAME NOTES: Trying to secure their 20th win of the season, the New Mexico State Aggies step out of conference to entertain the Drake Bulldogs this afternoon in a BracketBusters matchup from the Pan American Center in Las Cruces.
New Mexico State leads the all-time series 16-9. The Aggies are 11-2 in games played in Las Cruces against the former conference foes, but they haven't met since the 1982-83 season.
In another break from WAC play, the Aggies defeated Northern New Mexico, 100-68, on Tuesday. Redshirt senior Wendell McKines paces the Aggies this season with 18.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Senior guard Hernst Laroche adds 12.0 ppg, and senior center Hamidu Rahman tallies 10.5 ppg. Junior forward Bandja Sy scored a career-best 19 points in Tuesday's victory, while Rahman finished with 18 points and eight boards. Freshman guard Daniel Mullings (8.2 ppg) and junior forward Tyrone Watson (6.3 ppg) round out the starting five for the Aggies, who are getting 8.5 ppg from Sy, a native of France, off the bench.
Today marks a milestone for the Drake basketball program, as this will be the 2,500th contest in its 106-year history. The Bulldogs are coming off a 62-55 win at Bradley on Wednesday. Rayvonte Rice and Kurt Alexander each scored 15 points. Aaron Hawley added 12 points and Jordan Clarke grabbed a career-best 16 rebounds in the Missouri Valley Conference victory. Drake boasts two of the top four scorers in the MVC, with Rice ranking third at 16.3 ppg, and Ben Simons sitting fourth at 16.1 ppg. Drake, trying for its first winning conference record since 2007-08, and just its second since 1985-86, has played well at the defensive end this season. The Bulldogs have not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 50 percent from the field in any of the last 12 games. Opponents during that the stretch are shooting a combined 40.9 percent. The Bulldogs have gotten a big lift from freshman Jeremy Jeffers, who is shooting 52 percent in the last seven games. Additionally, the Bulldogs rank second in the MVC in three-point field goal percentage defense (.319) and third in steals (7.1).
New Mexico State owns a 5-1 record in BracketBuster bouts over the years, but that lone defeat came last February 19 in an 82-80 loss to Northern Colorado. The Aggies are clearly the stronger team here, and are 13-1 when they score 80 points or more.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico State 81, Drake 69
02/18 10:32:12 ET