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January 9, 2014

ISU kept calm ... and rallied past Drake

DES MOINES, IOWA — The gumption Indiana State's men's basketball team conjured in its 77-73 victory at Drake was worthy of a T-shirt.

Keep calm ... and rely on your experience.

ISU seemed stuck in a tailspin when Drake used a zone defense to throw ISU's offense off-kilter in the first 11 miuntes of the second half. A 10-point halftime lead morphed into a four-point Drake advantage with nine minutes to go.

ISU could've panicked. Instead, it steeled its nerves.

The Sycamores stayed even-keeled and let the game come back to them. And it came back with a vengence. ISU scored 24 points in the final 8:45 of the contest and on 12 of its last 15 possessions. A four-point deficit would turn into an eight-point lead by the final minute and the Sycamores iced the game at the free throw line.

"It shows our maturity. We've grown throughout the year. It's a big win for us," ISU point guard Jake Odum said. "We stayed really composed. When we got in huddles, we maintained our composure. We understood we still had time to come back. I think our experience really showed tonight. To be able to do that on the road is big-time for us."

It was ISU’s ninth victory in 10 games and it was also the first time the Sycamores (12-3, 3-0) won their first two MVC road games since 1979.

"That's a pretty darn good stat. It means we're a good team that's won two road games, but the only thing we can do is look at the next one," ISU coach Greg Lansing said.

Odum reflected that mantra.

"You said we won nine of 10? I don't think anyone on the team even realized we won nine of 10. We've really been focused on one game at a time. We're excited about it, but once we get back to Terre Haute, we move on to the next game," Odum said.

Manny Arop paced ISU with 16 points. Jake Odum had 15 points and Dawon Cummings added 13. ISU fought off a 29-point effort by Bulldog sharpshooter Richard Carter.

The Sycamores (12-3, 3-0) took heart in the fact that no one player helped them rally. Key shots were hit by Lucas Eitel, Khristian Smith, Arop, Odum and Cummings in the final 18-8 run that decided the game.

"We have a number of guys who could go for 25 in any one night," Cummings said. "We just keep the ball moving and let someone make the play. It's a luxury for us to be so deep."

Carter was dangerous throughout, but a key for ISU was not letting any of the other Bulldogs become a factor.  Boston College transfer Jordan Daniels scored 15, but on 5 of 14 shooting. Seth VanDeest had 10, but missed key free throws, including a pair in the midst of ISU's comeback.

The Bulldogs (10-5, 1-2) switched to a zone defense early in the second half. The Bulldogs felt something had to be done after ISU’s offense eased the Sycamores to a 12-point advantage.

ISU lost its mojo trying to attack the zone. ISU managed just four points in the next eight minutes, but Lansing wasn't dissatisfied with the Sycamores' shots.

"I thought we did OK against the zone. It gets you standing a bit, but we missed a couple of layups right around the basket. We missed some open threes and then you get standing and think about it a bit," Lansing said.

 It gave Drake the opening and the confidence to roar back into contention. ISU would be outscored 24-8 from the time Drake switched to a zone and the Bulldogs took a 54-50 lead.

Drake coach Ray Giacoletti would prefer to play man defense, and acknowledged the zone's effect on the game, but acknowledged its shortcomings, especially when ISU -- the third-best 3-point shooting team in the nation -- has an array of gunners to choose from.

"It worked, but they put five shooters on the floor. They can't spread you out five on the perimeter and continue to play zone. We really struggled to rebound out of it as well," Giacoletti said.

The Sycamores got back on-track with 8:45 left when Eitel drained a 3-pointer. From that point, ISU scored on four of five possessions and led 59-58 with 6:23 left.

After Drake tied it, a Manny Arop 3-pointer with 4:52 left gave the Sycamores a 62-59 lead. On ISU’s next offensive trip, Odum converted a layup to give ISU a 64-60 advantage.

Drake cut its deficit to 64-62, but ISU had the makes to keep the Bulldogs at bay. A key bucket was a Smith floater at 2:10 on a second-chance bucket. After VanDeest missed a free throw on a one-and-one, Arop drilled a jumper to make it 68-62. A Cummings 3-pointer with 57 seconds left made it 71-63.

ISU made 6 of 6 at the line in the last minute to hold the Bulldogs off.

"We weathered the storm and did what we had to do to get a good road win against Drake, a really good team," Lansing said.

Separation was hard to come by early as both teams got off to a lively start from the field. Drake made four of its first seven 3-point attempts, while ISU created scoring chances off Drake turnovers and rode an energized Odum. Odum scored ISU’s first six points and eight of its first 10.

Drake led 20-18 at the 10:24 mark, but that’s when ISU asserted itself more defensively without a dropoff on the offensive end. Drake failed to score on six of seven trips while the Sycamores doubled-down on their offense. Cummings had a layup and 3-pointer in succession to put ISU in front. A pair of free throws by Brandon Burnett, a 3-pointer by Odum and a banked 10-footer by Justin Gant capped a 10-0 run and made it 30-22 in ISU’s favor.

ISU’s first-half lead peaked at 12 before the Sycamores settled for a 40-30 halftime advantage. ISU shot 44.8 percent in the opening half, but just as important, made all 10 of its free throws and had just four turnovers.

ISU returns home for its next two contests. The Sycamores host Bradley at 1 p.m. Saturday.

INDIANA STATE (77) -- Gant 2-10 0-0 5, Moore 2-5 0-0 4, Arop 5-11 4-4 16, Cummings 4-10 2-2 13, Odum 5-11 4-6 15, Kitchell 1-2 0-0 3, Eitel 1-4 0-0 3, Brown 0-0 2-2 2, Burnett 0-0 4-4 4, Smith 6-7 0-0 12. 26-60 FG, 16-18 FT, 77 TP.

DRAKE (73) -- Berkeley 0-0 0-0 0, Caird 1-6 2-4 4, VanDeest 4-4 2-5 10, Carter 11-21 5-6 29, Daniels 5-14 3-3 15, Madison 0-0 0-0 0, Danielak 0-4 0-0 0, Enevold 2-3 0-0 4, McLaughlin 0-0 0-0 0, Hawley 4-7 1-2 11. 27-59 FG, 13-20 FT, 73 TP.

Halftime -- ISU 40-30. 3-point goals -- ISU 9-28 (Cummings 3-9, Arop 2-6, Odum 1-4, Eitel 1-4, Gant 1-3, Kitchell 1-1, Smith 0-1), DU 6-20 (Daniels 2-6, Carter 2-5, Hawley 2-2, Caird 0-4). Rebounds -- ISU 36 (Gant 6, Arop 6, Odum 4, Smith 4, Team 4, Kitchell 3, Cummings 2, Eitel 2, Burnett 2, Moore), DU 34 (Daniels 5, Enevold 5, Caird 4, VanDeest 4, Hawley 4, Berkeley 3, Carter 3, Danielak 3, Team 2, Madison). Assists -- ISU 13 (Odum 6, Arop 2, Cummings 2, Burnett 2, Brown), DU 6 (Carter 3, Daniels, Madison, Hawley). Steals -- ISU 4 (Odum 2, Gant, Cummings), DU 6 (Berkeley 2, Caird, Daniels, Danielak, Hawley). Blocks -- ISU 2 (Gant, Kitchell), DU 4 (VanDeest 2, Berkeley, Enevold). Turnovers -- ISU 8 (Odum 3, Cummings 2, Brown 2, Kitchell), DU 8 (Carter 3, Daniels 2, Berkeley, Caird, VanDeest). Total fouls -- ISU 18, DU 18. A -- 3,465.

Next -- ISU (12-3, 3-0) plays host to Bradley and Drake (10-5, 1-2) plays at Northern Iowa on Saturday.

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