UNI men’s basketball takes on Drake in MVC clash

UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Drake

  • 5 p.m. CT | January 22
  • Cedar Falls, Iowa | McLeod Center (6650)
  • ESPNU (Robert Lee: Play-by-Play / Kevin Lehman: Analyst)
  • 1540 KXEL: Panther Sports Radio Network (Gary Rima: Play-by-Play / Kevin Boyle: Analyst)

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — UNI men’s basketball returns home late Saturday afternoon at the McLeod Center, where the Panthers host in-state conference rival Drake in Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) action.

During the game, former members of the UNI men’s basketball program are recognized as part of the program’s alumni game.

The Panthers appear to be recovering after a heavy 83-80 overtime loss in Valparaiso on Wednesday night. UNI led by 5 points at halftime and a whopping 9 points, but the Beacons put together a strong offensive performance to drop the Panthers to 5-2 in the league, UNI’s first loss in nearly a month. Noah Carter led the Panthers in an impressive performance against Valparaiso with a career-high 33 points, as well as 10 rebounds and five assists to record his third career double-double. Bring Berhow registered 14 points on 4 three-point field goals and 4 assists in the loss, while Bowen Born scored 11 points. Nate Heiss Posted 9 points, including the tying layup to force extra time, if Austin Phyfea achieved 7 points.

Drake (13-6; 4-2 MVC) comes to Cedar Falls on Wednesday after an 83-71 home loss to Bradley in Des Moines. The Bulldogs, who play their third game in 6 days on Saturday, are led by former Panther Darian DeVries, who played for UNI from 1994 to 1998. DeVries, who received the MVC’s Coach of the Year Award twice in 2019 and 2021, helped the Bulldogs to a big place in the NCAA tournament last season, where Drake defeated Wichita State in the first four rounds in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The Bulldogs were selected as the MVC’s preseason favorite to win the regular season title, with 29 out of 37 votes in first place. Built with depth, Drake has three players averaging more than 10 points per game, led by freshman Tucker DeVries, who has scored 13.4 points this season with 4.5 rebounds per game in 12 starts this season. Senior guard and First Team All-MVC Preseason Squad Roman Penn averages 10.4 points per game and leads the Bulldogs with 3.7 assists per game, while Garrett Sturtz, one of the MVC’s leading rebounders, averages 10, Drake has 5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The Bulldogs also lean on the talents of senior forward ShanQuan Hemphill, a Second Team All-MVC Preseason winner who racked up 9.4 points in just over 25 minutes per game. Defensively, Tremell Murphy is right behind Sturtz on the rebound ahead of Drake, leading the team by 14 blocked shots.

UNI leads the all-time series against the Bulldogs 50-30. Drake won both regular season games last season and won the last three overall encounters. The two programs were due to meet in last year’s MVC Tournament quarterfinals in St. Louis, but the contest was deemed a no-contest due to COVID-19 protocols in the area with Drake advancing, eventually reaching the championship game before he fell in Loyola-Chicago.

PANTHER COMMENTS

  • UNI is 21-12 against Drake under head coach Ben Jacobson. The Panthers are also 13-5 at home against the Jacobson-era Bulldogs (since 2006-07).
  • Noah Carter has racked up at least 15 points in each of UNI’s 7 conference matchups this season. The sophomore forward averages 19.7 points per game in MVC play, the 8th best average in the league.
  • The Panthers have an average of 8.1 more points on offense in competition (79.7) than against non-conference opponents (71.6).
  • With 50% or better shooting from the field, UNI is undefeated (5-0).
  • UNI is 72-9 with a score of at least 80 points below Ben Jacobson.
  • The Panthers have made at least 10 free throws in their last 4 games, including at least 19 in 3 of their last 4 games.
  • AJ Green is 30 points short of joining the club with 1,500 career points. The 9th top scorer in UNI history would become just the 7th player to reach 1,500 points, and the first since Seth Tuttle in 2015.
  • Bring Berhow is 12 points away from passing former Panther and current Drake head coach Darian DeVries for 32nd on the program’s all-time scorer. Berhow has scored 1,073 points since moving from Pepperdine to UNI in 2018.
  • Austin Phyfea is 48 points away from passing his father Steve on UNI’s all-time scoring list. Steve Phyfe, who played at UNI from 1987-90, was a member of the program’s first NCAA Division I Tournament team in 1990.

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