Darian DeVries on Drake basketball’s win over Missouri State
Drake basketball beat Missouri State in its largest margin of victory against the Bears in the Darian DeVries era. Hear from the Bulldogs’ coach after the win.
Freshman guard Kevin Overton got the Knapp Center rocking on Saturday. His contributions kept the Drake men’s basketball fans on their feet.
It started with two made free throws early in the first half, when Overton was fouled on his fast-break attempt.
With about five minutes left in the same period, Atin Wright grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled to the other end and dished the ball to Overton. Through contact, he made his layup to push the Bulldogs 10 points ahead of Missouri State.
Then, midway through the second half, Overton capitalized on a bad pass by Donovan Clay. He picked up the steal, drove downcourt and tipped a layup into the basket to give Drake a 15-point lead.
Overton had a solid stat line in Drake’s 74-47 win over the Bears: 11 points, three rebounds, one steal. He was not the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, but he was the most consistently impactful player on both ends.
“I thought he was tremendous,” Darian DeVries said of Overton’s performance. “I think a lot of Donovan Clay, tremendous mismatch to try and guard … I thought (Overton) really battled, was able to get through screens and really competed on that side.”
Overton’s play — along with a 24-point performance from Tucker DeVries and a team effort on defense — helped Drake to a 2-0 start against MVC opponents and a 7-1 record overall.
“We came out with a lot of enthusiasm and ready to play, and we executed the game plan,” Tucker DeVries said.
Kevin Overton’s defensive prowess shines against Donovan Clay
The Bulldogs freshman guarded one player for most of Saturday’s game: Missouri State’s preseason All-MVC first-team selection, Donovan Clay.
Taking on one of the league’s best players is a tough assignment for any player, let alone a true freshman, and Clay had at least a three-inch size advantage.
“It’s definitely a challenge, (and) a step up from non-conference play,” Overton said.
Overton helped keep Clay to just nine points, six below his season average. Clay was 3-of-13 overall and made none of his four three-point attempts. He turned over the ball four times.
Overton, an Oklahoma City native, said during preseason that his defense was one of his biggest assets.
That was evident against Missouri State. If Overton continues to guard at a high level against some of the conference’s best players, he’s going to be a problem for opponents.
Good things happen when Drake controls the pace of the game
Missouri State never held the lead on Saturday.
“Defensively, we were pretty good,” Darian DeVries said. “Last year, at halftime, we were up similar to this year. And I thought this second half, we were a little better than last year. I thought Missouri State’s second half last year, (they) really came out and were the aggressor.
“Today, we were able to maintain our aggressiveness, we were able to keep the pace offensively, and I thought we were able to wear into them a little bit later in that second half.”
From the moment Tucker DeVries scored 18 seconds into the matchup, this was the Bulldogs’ game to lose. But despite another poor shooting night (43% from the floor, 22% from distance), Drake played its game at its tempo, and that kept the Bears at bay.
“At our pace, when we play at our pace, a lot of teams can’t stick, especially through the span of the game,” Overton said. “Controlling that pace is definitely important, especially in transition, after consecutive misses, we have to push the pace.”
A nearly 20-point victory is the result of Drake controlling the pace. This was the largest margin of victory against Missouri State in the Darian DeVries era. The largest overall was a 78-43 victory over the Bears on Feb. 22, 2015.
Should there be concerns about Drake’s three-point woes?
The Bulldogs’ success rate of 8.3% from three-point range on Nov. 25 was unsightly. Drake went 1-of-12 in that game against Texas Southern.
When the Bulldogs traveled to Valparaiso on Wednesday, there was improvement in the Bulldogs’ shooting from deep — 26.1%, 6-of-23 — but it still wasn’t at the level of last season. And on Saturday, the trend continued.
Drake made one of 12 attempts from beyond the arc in the first half, or 8.3% of the Bulldogs attempts. By the end of the game, they had improved that average to 22.2%, making 6-of-27 three-pointers.
Tucker DeVries admitted postgame that this was another poor shooting performance for the Bulldogs. But he’s not worried.
“I’m not concerned about anybody on our team missing shots,” Tucker DeVries said. “Obviously we’d like them to go in. But sometimes that’s basketball. I know K.O., myself, Atin, a lot of the other guys, we can really shoot the ball. I think as the season goes on, those numbers will start to balance themselves out. If we put that together with the defense we brought tonight, you’re gonna see an even better team.”
Drake went 37% overall from beyond the arc in the 2022-23 season. This year, the Bulldogs have made 34% of their three-point shots. Tucker DeVries was at 37% last season, and he’s at 31% through the first eight games.
But there’s plenty of season left for the Bulldogs to get their percentages where they want them to be.
“Baseball, hitters go through slumps,” Darian DeVries said. “Shooting’s the same way. We have really good shooters. I’m actually more excited about it, to be honest with you, that we’re able to win a few games here when we’ve not shot it very well, because I know how our guys can shoot it.”
Alyssa Hertel is the college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at email@example.com or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.