Bulldogs host Shockers in MVC action

Dec 31, 2014 - 3:53 PM Des Moines, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - The weakest team in the Missouri Valley Conference plays host to one of the strongest, as the Drake Bulldogs welcome 16th-ranked Wichita State to town on New Year's Eve.

Among the programs in the MVC, Drake has the fewest victories with just three, with one of those coming against an opponent outside of the Division I ranks in Simpson College (84-62) the last time out. The victory was the second in the last three outings for a Bulldogs squad that is playing the last of four straight games in the city of Des Moines and is set to take on league foes Missouri State and Illinois State on the road over the next week.

Wichita State, which went undefeated all of last season before bowing to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, was considered one of the top squads outside of the power conferences heading into the 2014-15 campaign, but already the team has suffered a couple of defeats.

The loss at nationally-ranked Utah by a single point in overtime (69-68) is certainly understandable, but then the Shockers had a six-game win streak snapped by George Washington, 60-54, in the title game of the Diamond Head Classic last week.

As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Shockers have won five straight over Drake and now own a 97-47 advantage as they enter the 145th meeting. Wichita State is set to host the Bulldogs a little more than three weeks from now.

A long, long way from home, the Shockers were taken out by the George Washington Colonials on Christmas by six points in a hotly-contested meeting at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. Wichita State didn't have a single player make more than just four field goals and only Fred VanVleet scored in double figures for the squad as he tallied 11 on 4-of-15 from the floor. The team as a whole was just 34.4 percent accurate from the field and visited the free-throw line just twice as Zach Brown converted one of his two chances.

The effort by the Shockers from the floor versus George Washington was the weakest of the season and marked the second straight outing in which the program was held below 40 percent accuracy. Conversely, the Colonials made good on 51.1 percent from the floor which was the best effort by any WSU opponent through 12 games.

VanVleet is one of three players scoring in double figures with his 11.7 ppg, supplemented by his team-best 64 assists and 26 steals, not to mention 4,3 rpg which is also one of the top efforts for the program. Ahead of him in the scoring department are Ron Baker and Darius Carter with 16.6 and 11.9 ppg, respectively, the former shooting 32-of-80 out on the perimeter and the latter pulling down a team-best 6.3 rpg.

Knotted at 17-17 with 11 minutes to play in the first half, the Bulldogs rolled out a 29-9 scoring burst in order to take control against Simpson and eventually cruise to the home victory. Drake made good on an impressive 63.8 percent from the field, while limiting the visitors to only 39.6 percent accuracy and also topped Simpson on the glass, 32-18. Jordan Daniels led the attack with 24 points, Reed Timmer produced 19, Jacob Enevold 14 points and Gary Ricks 10 to go along with six rebounds and five assists.

The Bulldogs are a team that is scoring only 63.0 ppg, while giving up 70.9 ppg, so it is clear why wins are still hard to come by. Ricks, who has been in the lineup for nine of 12 games, is listed as the top scoring threat with his 11.2 ppg, although Timmer is right there with him at 11.2 ppg, although the former is far more accomplished behind the 3-point line (.405) and is pulling down close to four rebounds per contest as well. Enevold, who has five times as many turnovers (30) as assists (six), is responsible for a team-best 6.0 rpg.

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