Bulldogs Fall To New Mexico State In Road BracketBusters Test
Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012
LAS CRUCES, N.M.--New Mexico State senior Wendell McKines scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds Saturday to lead the Aggies to a 71-55 victory over visiting Drake in a BracketBusters matchup at the Pan American Center. McKines, the leading scorer and rebounder in the Western Athletic Conference, set the tone from the start in handing Drake the non-conference loss.
The Bulldogs are 15-13, 8-8 in the Missouri Valley Conference, while New Mexico State improves to 20-8 overall, and in second place in the WAC at 7-3.
Sophomore Rayvonte Rice (Champaign, Ill.) led Drake with 18 points and pulled down five rebounds. Junior Aaron Hawley (Rogers, Ark.) added 14 points and tied for the team lead with six rebounds. He tied his career high with four three-pointers, and has made 16 in the five games he has started in place of the ill Ben Simons (mononucleosis).
New Mexico State, ranked 23rd in the nation in scoring at 77.7 points per game and 14th in rebounding at 39.6 per game, outrebounded Drake 40-31. McKines leads the WAC in both categories, entering the game with averages of 18.1 and 10.3, respectively.
"They're a big, physical team," head coach Mark Phelps said of the No. 74-RPI ranked Aggies. "They're playing at home and we just didn't have enough to fight and battle and get the win."
Drake fell behind 40-26 by halftime as New Mexico State used its size and athleticism to extend its defense out beyond the three-point arc. An active man-to-man defense with a tall low-post player remaining in the middle caused a struggle for the Bulldogs, who could not establish a rhythm offensively.
"We knew the key to this game was to rebound," Phelps said. "We also had to shrink the floor and make them beat us from the outside. They made seven threes in 13 attempts, so they shot a very high percentage. We weren't able to be strong enough and tough enough on the offensive end to really get the shots we needed and get to the free-throw line. When we did get to the free-throw line, that's something that's been bothering us all year long. We were 12-of-23, so that certainly hurt us."
The Aggies opened the game with a 5-0 lead before Drake came back with five consecutive points, courtesy of a Karl Madison layup and a Hawley three-pointer. From there, New Mexico State embarked on a 14-2 run that grew to 18-5 to build a 23-10 lead before the Bulldogs could get their bearings.
Trailing by 10 or more for much of the first half, Drake rallied with an 8-4 run to cut the lead back to 9, at 33-24. New Mexico State answered with a 7-2 run to produce the halftime score of 40-26.
The Bulldogs opened the second half with three-pointers by Rice and Hawley, sandwiched around an Aggies bucket to cut the lead back to 10. As it had done throughout the game, however, New Mexico State responded and built its lead to as many as 21 points midway through the half.
Redshirt-freshman point guard Karl Madison (Springfield, Ill.) was one of the few Bulldogs who were able to create shots by slashing to the hoop. He scored 8 points, including 4-for-6 shooting from the line, and dished two assists with no turnovers in 31 minutes of play.
"I thought Karl did a nice job," Phelps said. "He didn't turn the ball over one time, and this experience will be good for him as a freshman. It will help a young basketball team like ours. I thought Karl really battled."
Junior Jordan Clarke (Rockville, Md.) scored seven points and tied for the team high with six rebounds.
Drake shot just 34 percent from the field (18-for-53), while new Mexico State shot 48 percent (24-50), the highest by an opponent since Creighton shot 50 percent on January 25. The Bulldogs were 7-of 22 from three-point range (32 percent), while the Aggies shot 7-of-13 (54 percent) from three.
The Bulldogs now set their sights on a strong finish to the Missouri Valley Conference schedule with two regular season games remaining. Drake, tied for fourth place with Evansville and Illinois State, hosts Southern Illinois Wednesday night for Senior Night, seeking to hold its position for seeding in the State Farm MVC Tournament. Drake's final regular season tune-up comes Saturday at Wichita State.
- Junior Aaron Hawley tied a career high with four three-pointers. He has hit that total three times in the five games he has started in place of Ben Simons (mono), and has 16 three-pointers in the five games combined. (3.2/game).
- Hawley has scored in double figures in five consecutive games (12, 12, 10, 12 and 14).
- Drake has not allowed an opponent to shoot higher than 50 percent in its last13 games.
- Today's game was the 2,500th game in the 106-year history of Drake's men's basketball program. The Bulldogs have an all-time record of 1,146-1,354 (.458).
- The Bulldogs are 7-2 now in games played as part of the BracketBuster series, while New Mexico State is 6-1. Entering the BracketBusters weekend, Drake was one of three MVC schools who had seven BracketBusters wins, most by any school that has participated in the 10-year-old series. Drake's 13-3 record in BracketBusters and BracketBusters return games combined is the best of any school.
- The Aggies, a former member of the Missouri Valley Conference, now hold a 17-9 advantage in their series with the Bulldogs.
- Rice fouled out for just the second time this season.