TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA---After picking up by far their best win of the 2015-16 campaign against D.J. Balentine's Evansville Purple Aces, the waves known as the Missouri Valley Conference have rocked and tossed the Indiana State Sycamores like a rag doll.
Shooting horribly (36.5%) but fortunate to come away victorious last Wednesday, Greg Lansing's bunch was finally taken to the ground for a loss as five scorers in double-figures was not enough at Chicago against Loyola (IL).
But, the lull in good competition was due to continue, for a pair of 1-9 in conference play squads were up next.
While it was once again not a pleasant sight, Indiana State was able to find a groove in the second twenty minutes to pull ahead and get back on track versus the Drake Bulldogs.
A contest of runs early, the Sycamores came out of the gates hot with their dynamic duo of Devonte Brown and Brenton Scott to pull ahead to a 7-2 edge before four treys, two from each Graham Woodward and Ore Argundade, broke the Bulldogs' leash as a part of a 13-0 domination. 15-8 Drake!
Here we go again! Indiana State was going to have a shooting percentage in the basement and wallow under 60 for the majority.
Correct! However, despite the fact, they rolled off nine straight, capped with back-to-back triples from Khristian Smith, to control a one-point advantage just after the ten minute mark (16-15 INST)
From the score of 16-15, either one of two things happened. One, both defenses' locked down on the opposition with smothering shot contests or, two, they went ice cold from the field.
How about both!
Prior to halftime, Indiana State and Drake, who totaled just 23 points in the final 9:12 of the first half, swapped leads, with the Bulldogs claiming the last at 28-26.
Back and forth with jabs being traded in the form of baskets to begin the second half, the Bulldogs were able to stay ahead by a possession with all six of "swag freshman" Billy Wampler's points.
Though, it would not last for long as two unlikely heroes changed the game.
For the last two contests, Sycamores' juniors Niels Bunschoten and Grant Prusator had been held scoreless on three total shot attempts. On Tuesday, they had the biggest swishes of the night.
Down 43-40 with 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Bunschoten tickled the twine from beyond the arc to knot the game at 43. What a big shot! And in all honesty, it had the potential to be THE shot of the evening if it were not for Prusator scoring for the first time since January 17 while supplying a three-point lead.
"Stud sophomore" Brenton Scott, spurred by the trey from the junior, then took the scoring baton with 5 of his 13 points, which transformed the margin to eight.
Although Drake pulled within three thanks to two triples from "stud sophomore" Reed Timmer with just 32.9 seconds left, Indiana State stat-sheet stuffer Everett Clemons slammed the door shut with two made free throws before the defense locked it by causing Timmer's layup to be off the mark. The Sycamores had survived once again.
Missouri Valley Conference Defensive MVP?
When looking up and down the incoming transfers list for "The Valley" this September, one immediately picked out the names of Wichita State's Anton Grady and Conner Frankamp, Missouri State's Dequon Miller, and Drake's Kale Abrahamson and Graham Woodard as newcomers with the potential to make an impact when conference play began at the end of December.
But, who would have thought Indiana State's Everett Clemons, a 6'1" guard who transferred from Vincennes University, would be in the same sentence!
Despite not having eclipsed more than 13 points in his young Division I career, Clemons has done all the small things to help add tallies to the win column. Rebound the basketball? You got it! Dive on 50/50 balls? No problem! Literally, he has done it all on the defensive end of the floor, which proposes the question: Has he done enough for Defensive MVP when awards are given during the first week of March?
The answer is absolutely!
Who cares if he doesn't lead the nation in rebounding like Evansville's Egidijus Mockevicius! The fact is, Clemons has posted double-figure rebound totals in three games, including a career-high 16 at Southern Illinois. Furthermore, he is averaging 8.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game since the beginning of conference play! Aren't those "Defensive MVP-like statistics?"
13-10 (7-4) Indiana State will travel back north, but not as far, for a Saturday meeting with the youngest team in college basketball, the Bradley Braves.
Struggling To Put The "Biscuit In The Basket"
Drake's Reed Timmer, Kale Abrahamson, and Graham Woodward may not have the name recognition like the backcourt trio of Wichita State or Indiana State, but the three make up one of the higher scoring in the conference. However, all they could do tonight was miss shots.
Normally reliable for about 42 points per, Timmer, Abrahamson, and Woodward had just 25 between them. And, that includes Abrahamson being held scoreless inside the Hulman Center as he missed all five of his attempts! Additionally, Timmer and Abrahamson both finished below their season averages since the previous had 15 (17.6 PPG coming in) and the latter netted 10 (11.8 PPG). And they didn't even shoot the ball well! Frustrated when going into the paint, the "stud sophomore" swished only 5-of-20 while the Penn State transfer was 4-for-14.
However, a pair of youngsters, Ore Arogundade and Dominik Olejniczak, were bright spots this evening. Arogundade, who has arguably been one of the most consistent players in the last five, tied Timmer's game-high point total of 15 in 11 fewer shots, for he was 6-of-9, in addition to sneaking inside for eight rebounds. Moreover, seven foot freshman Olejniczak almost posted a double-double with 6 points to complement 10 rebounds.
6-17 (1-10) Drake will head home to host in-state rival Northern Iowa on Saturday.
Battle of "Stud Sophomores"
This evening, the two best sophomores, Indiana State's Brenton Scott and Drake's Reed Timmer, in the MVC took center stage for their second head-to-head showdown of the season. Sadly, just like the first, both had underachieving stat-lines.
Combining for 7-of-26 shot attempts in the first meeting, neither Scott or Timmer could get in a groove on Wednesday, for this time they made 10 out of 38. Yuck! Yeah, "yuck" is right! From missing three-pointers to very makeable layups, neither had any luck with roles or bounces.
He Said It (Part I)
"It's (making shots) got to be your constant. It always does, and it certainly hasn't been in a couple of our road losses. We like to say that defense and toughness travels. You can always take that. And Saturday is going to be a huge step for us to do that regardless if shots are falling."
---Indiana State Sycamores' head coach Greg Lansing on the impending matchup with another young team in Bradley.
He Said It (Part II)
"It's just about staying ready for when my time is called. I really didn't think too much about it--the game was tied at 45-45, I think. I just went in and tried to do what I can do, which is space the floor and shoot when I am open. Brenton gave me a perfect pass, so all credit goes to him."
---Indiana State's Grant Prusator on his three-pointer that spurred an 8-0 run.