Drake already has won its first Missouri Valley Conference title in 37 years and appears to be a lock for the NCAA tournament. It has not been closing the regular season in ideal fashion, however.
The 20th-ranked Bulldogs try to bounce back from another disappointing loss on Saturday when they wrap up the regular season against Wichita State at the Knapp Center.
Since winning a school-record 21 straight games, and reaching as high as No. 14 in the AP poll, Drake (24-4, 14-3) has lost three of its last five.
The Bulldogs beat then-No. 8 Butler 71-64 last Saturday to significantly help their NCAA tournament chances, but they followed that impressive win with an 86-83 loss at Missouri State on Tuesday.
Drake trailed by 17 points with just over 8 minutes left before hitting six 3-pointers in a 4-minute span to get back in the game. The Bulldogs had a chance to send the game into overtime, but had their inbounds pass stolen with 2.1 seconds left.
“They played a very inspired game on their senior night and they deserve a lot of credit for how well they played,” Drake coach Keno Davis said.
The Bulldogs will recognize their three seniors on Saturday—Adam Emmenecker, Klayton Korver and Leonard Houston. The trio has been a major reason for Drake’s first conference championship since 1971.
Emmenecker, a former walk-on that scored just 55 points in his first three years at Drake, is a candidate for league MVP. The point guard is averaging 7.5 points and a conference-high 6.0 assists, and needs six assists to surpass Al Stewart’s single-season school record of 174 set last season.
Emmenecker finished with 10 points and seven assists on Tuesday, and had four points, eight rebounds and three assists in the Bulldogs’ 62-54 victory over the Shockers in their conference opener on Dec. 29.
Drake held Wichita State (11-18, 4-13) to 39.6 percent shooting and 3-of-21 from 3-point range in that win, and now looks to sweep the season series for the first time since 1995-96. The Bulldogs, who snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Shockers last season, are trying to win three straight against them for the first time since reeling off seven in a row between 1969-72.
Bulldogs sophomore Josh Young, who leads the MVC with 16.6 points per game, scored 17 against Wichita State in December. Young, the league leader in 3-point shooting at 46.4 percent, is averaging 22.0 points in his last three games.
The Shockers are coming off a 68-54 win over Evansville on Tuesday, moving past the last-place Aces in the Valley.
Wichita State snapped a four-game losing streak on Tuesday, and now seeks to win back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 19 and 22. The Shockers, though, have lost eight straight road games since an 80-73 win at Bradley on Jan. 5.
Senior P.J. Couisnard scored a career-high 25 points against Evansville, and is averaging 19.6 points - 6.3 better than his season average - in his last five games. He finished with nine points and six rebounds against Drake in December.
The Shockers have won their last three games against Top 25 teams, but they have not faced one this season.