Watch out, Missouri Valley Conference!
The Drake Bulldogs (8-11, 3-4) are hot with no signs of cooling down after a convincing 69-59 victory over the Illinois State Redbirds (13-5, 4-3) in front of a national audience on ESPNU.
The services of seniors Josh Young and Adam Templeton helped key the Bulldogs to their third straight victory. Young led Drake with 18 points while Templeton netted his fourth career double-double, tallying 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Drake came out of the gates on fire, establishing a 20-point lead entering the second half.
On the other end of the floor, Illinois State struggled to drain anything, making one of its first 12 shots. Nearly 15 minutes into the game, the Redbirds scored eight points and ended the half down 35-15, thanks to a revamped Drake defense.
"We're improving incrementally on the defensive end," said Drake head coach Mark Phelps in the press release. "And really, that's where our focus is. And guys are starting to hit shots."
As a team, the Bulldogs shot 45.1 percent on the night, while the Redbirds put up a mark of 36.8 percent.
Templeton and junior guard Ryan Wedel took turns going on hot streaks. Templeton drained four three-point baskets in the first half, which puts his season total at 34, just one shy of last year's total.
Wedel enjoyed a successful night with 15 points and five rebounds. One of his three-pointers gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the night, 40-15, early in the second half.
Illinois State simply couldn't keep up.
"We got excellent shots in the first half, but then we got distracted on the other end," said Redbirds coach Tim Jankovich. "We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes and we had a number of breakdowns."
One oddity was the first half performance of Illinois State's Osiris Eldridge, the MVC's scoring leader and arguably the league's top player. Eldridge was held scoreless in the first half but returned to form, unleashing a volley of six three-pointers in the second half.
That helped narrow the final margin and Eldridge finished with a game-high 26 points.
The Bulldogs' senior point guard Craig Stanley was in street clothes throughout the game, sidelined indefinitely with a right wrist injury. Josh Young filled in for Stanley, getting some minutes at point guard.
And he looked good.
Young moved into fifth in Drake career-scoring with 1,554 points.
More time at the point for Young may be in demand, especially if it helps the Bulldogs keep winning.
Hey, three's a streak!