Instate foes collide in Big Four Classic

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Updated: 12/07/2013 11:03 am

Des Moines, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - Instate foes collide in the second game of the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic, as the 23rd-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes square off with the Drake Bulldogs at the Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday evening.

The event will open with an earlier bout between Iowa State and Northern Iowa.

Ray Giacoletti's first season at the helm of the Drake program has gotten off on the right foot, as the Bulldogs have won six of their first season games on the docket. The lone loss came on Nov. 16 at Saint Mary's-CA (67-63), but the team has reeled off four straight wins since, including all three en route to the Fresno Classic crown last weekend.

Fran McCaffery's Hawkeyes are also enjoying a strong start to their season. Iowa comes in with an 8-1 overall record. The only loss thus far came in the title game of the Battle 4 Atlantis against Villanova (88-83 OT), but the team has bounced back with a 98-93 shootout victory over Notre Dame as part of this week's ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

These two rival are meeting for the 67th time. Iowa holds a substantial 56-10 series advantage. The Hawkeyes have won three straight meetings and 30 of the last 33 overall. This marks the first-ever meeting between these teams on a neutral floor.

The Hawkeyes have excelled in a number of areas this season and are one of the most balanced teams in the nation. The offensive numbers are gaudy, with the team netting a hefty 90.0 ppg, while shooting an efficient .469 from the field. The team has also put its work in on the boards, grabbing 45 caroms per game and holding a +7.8 advantage on the glass. The leader of the squad is point guard Roy Delvyn Marble, who is both a potent scorer (16.8 ppg) and deft distributor (3.8 apg). Aaron White (13.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) provides frontcourt balance, as does Jarrod Uthoff (10.0 ppg. 6.4 rpg), who has gotten all of his production coming off the bench.

The Hawkeyes went tow-to-toe with Notre Dame this week and came out on top thanks to a sizzling .569 shooting performance and holding the edge in rebounding (36-26) and points from the free-throw line (25-15). White led five Hawkeyes in double figures with 20 points. Marble and Uthoff poured in 17 points apiece, while Mike Gesell and Zach McCabe chipped in with 10 each.

The Bulldogs are a lot like the Hawkeyes in many areas this season. Drake is shooting a highly efficient .501 from the floor overall, leading to 77.3 ppg. Foes are netting just 63.1 ppg, while getting outrebounded by Drake by more than six boards per game. Backcourt play is the strength of the Bulldogs, highlighted by the explosive scoring of Richard Carter, who is netting 20.6 ppg. Gary Ricks is a perfect complement along the perimeter, adding 12.7 ppg, while serving as the team's top sniper (.429 from 3-point range) and distributor (3.9 apg). Scoring depth could become a concern down the road, as no one has stood up and aided Carter and Ricks in that regard, with the third leading scorer on the roster being Aaron Hawley at just 7.9 ppg.

Playing three games in a 40-hour stretch, it was only natural for Drake to have a tough time against Cal State Bakersfield on Sunday. The Bulldogs were still a strong .489 from the field, but were unable to distance themselves down the stretch against the pesky Roadrunners. Carter once again led the way with 18 points. Ricks and Karl Madison helped the cause with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

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