Green Bay (15-12) at Drake (12-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Knapp Center (7,002) -- Des Moines, Iowa. Television: None. Home Record: Green Bay 10-2, Drake 8-5. Away Record: Green Bay 4-9, Drake 3-7. Neutral Record: Green Bay 1-1, Drake 1-3. Conference Record: Green Bay 9-5, Drake 6-10. Series Record: Drake leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Taking a break from their respective conference schedules, the Green Bay Phoenix and the Drake Bulldogs get together at the Knapp Center in Des Moines on Saturday night as part of the annual BracketBusters event.
Drake, which competes in the Missouri Valley Conference, was caught up in a wild shootout earlier this week when it conquered Bradley in overtime, 92-84, at home. The victory snapped a four-game slide and was just the second win this month for the Bulldogs as they moved to 6-10 in MVC action.
As for the Phoenix, members of the Horizon League, they are currently enjoying a three-game win streak and are shooting for four in a row for just the second time this season. Last weekend, Green Bay paid a visit to Youngstown State and came away with a convincing 71-54 triumph for its fourth win in the last five outings overall.
According to Green Bay sources, the teams have played each other only one time previously, with the Bulldogs registering a 68-61 win at home during the 1984-85 campaign.
Trailing by six points within the first four minutes of the meeting with YSU, the Phoenix reversed their fortunes by shooting 52.1 percent from the floor and 17-of-20 at the free-throw line in the 17-point victory. Keifer Sykes scored a game-high 24 points, Alec Brown added 16 points and four blocked shots, followed by Jordan Fouse with a double-double consisting of 10 points and a game-high 10 boards in the victory as well.
Over the course of 27 games this season, Green Bay is scoring 66.5 ppg, but the good news is that the defense has held the competition to only 62.3 ppg along the way. Sykes heads the scoring list with his 15.5 ppg, shooting not only 80.9 percent at the free-throw line but also 46.0 percent beyond the arc. Making himself even more of a valued piece of the Green Bay puzzle, Sykes is also first with 111 assists as well.
Trailing by two points with 1.2 seconds remaining in regulation, the Bulldogs sent Seth VanDeest to the free-throw line where he calmly knocked down a pair of shots to send the game into overtime where Drake took over and carved out the eight-point home win. Jordan Clarke scored a career-high 20 points and added 15 rebounds for the Bulldogs as all five starters scored in double figures. Ben Simons and VanDeest both added 14 points, Chris Hines chipped in 12, although he shot just 2-of-10 from the floor, while Richard Carter pitched in 10 points and six boards.
Generating 72.6 ppg this season, the Bulldogs have just one player scoring in double figures as this point as Simons responds with 14.5 ppg. Simons is a 40.5 percent shooter behind the 3-point line, making him one of the more accurate perimeter snipers on a squad that is averaging 8.8 3-pointers made per game. As a group the Bulldogs are hitting their long-distance attempts at a 39.3 percent clip, compared to 36.0 percent for the competition, yet Drake is still being outscored by almost two points per game.
A more rested team for sure, the Phoenix have that edge working in their favor heading into the weekend, but they'll need more than that in order to take a bite out of the Bulldogs.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drake 77, Green Bay 66
02/23 10:33:28 ET