Drake Bulldogs (5-5 SU, 5-2-1 ATS, 5-3 O/U) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (5-6 SU, 1-4-2 ATS, 3-4 O/U)
NCAAB: Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. EST
The Iowa Hawkeyes will be trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since starting the season 3-0 when they go up against the Drake Bulldogs at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday afternoon. A four-game losing streak came to an end when the Hawkeyes beat Southern this past Sunday. Drake is 1-4 in its last five contests after falling at Minnesota on Monday.
Dialing long distance
The Bulldogs have dropped four of five since a 4-1 start heading into this showdown at the Hy-Vee Classic in Des Moines, Iowa. They did, however, push host Minnesota to the limit on Monday before falling 68-67.
“It would be hard for me to ask for a better effort,” head coach Niko Medved praised. “They played their hearts out and played together. They were locked in and fought like crazy tonight, we just came up a little short.”
The Bulldogs boast the best scoring offense (81.5 points) in the Missouri Valley Conference and are led by Reed Timmer (conference-best 20.7 points per game), although the 6’1” sharpshooter is coming off easily his worst effort of the season (eight points on 1-of-8 from the field). Graham Woodward (11.7 ppg) buried four triples on Monday to increase his season total to 26–fourth in the MVC behind Timmer’s team-leading 33–and the senior guard duo accounts for more than half of Drake’s conference-leading 105 three-pointers Drake has hit so far.
A dominant force
While its latest victory may have lacked importance in terms of the caliber of opponent, Iowa was able to solve some of the issues that led to a four-game skid while also allowing freshman Luka Garza to flash the form he did in his first few games. The Hawkeyes and their resurgent young 6’11” forward attempt to build on their most recent effort when they return to action on Saturday. Garza had a career-high 23 points and tied another personal best with 13 rebounds in only 19 minutes of action after dealing with some early foul trouble in last Sunday’s 91-60 rout of Southern. Iowa made 22 free throws, four more than in its previous three games combined. The Hawkeyes, who committed an average of 17 turnovers during their losing streak and 18 in three straight leading up to Sunday, also shored up their ball-security issues by committing a season-low seven turnovers against the Jaguars–including only one in the second half. Garza (9.0 points, 6.9 rebounds per game) scored 14 of his 23 points against Southern in the first half with the game still in the balance. He poured in nine of 11 total Iowa points during one stretch en route to his second double-double.
“This was clearly his best game,” head coach Fran McCaffery assured. “He was a dominant force. As soon as I put him in, he was playing well. He ran the floor, was on the glass, and made very few mistakes. He was in the right place and settled everyone down.”
The Drake Bulldogs are:
- 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight overall
- 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight non-conference games
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games against the Big Ten
The Iowa Hawkeyes are:
- 0-2-2 ATS in their last four overall
- 1-4-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games
- 16-36 ATS in their last 52 neutral-site games
Drake’s Ore Arogundade (7.7 ppg) more than doubled his scoring average entering the Minnesota game with a season-high 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting off the bench. Iowa sophomore forward Cordell Pemsl sat out Sunday after suffering a nasty gash on his right shin in a Dec. 7 loss to Iowa State and is questionable to play against Drake. Drake is 5-2-1 ATS in its last eight overall, 5-2-1 ATS in its last eight non-conference contests, 7-3 ATS in its last 10 against the Big Ten, and 3-1-1 ATS in its last five at neutral sites. The Hawkeyes are 0-2-2 ATS in their last four overall, 1-4-1 ATS in their last six non-conference contests, 16-36 ATS in their last 52 at neutral sites, and 0-4 ATS in their last four following a win. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.