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Game 1| 12:30 p.m.

No. 5 Drake vs. No. 12 Western Kentucky

Best wins

The Hilltoppers defeated Big 12 member Nebraska, taking advantage of 9-of-10 free-throw shooting in overtime as well as a clutch 3-pointer from Tyrone Brazleton with 34 seconds left.

Worst losses

Western Kentucky missed several chances for notable wins with close losses against Gonzaga, Tennessee and South Alabama, but lost only twice to teams not in the NCAA Tournament (Northern Arizona and Southern Illinois).

About the school

Located: Bowling Green, Ky.Enrollment: 19,000

Famous alumni: Former Kentucky Congressman Tim Lee Carter

Roster

No. Player POS GP MIN PTS REB

2 Alex White F 10 9.8 3.7 2.9

4 Brent Heemskerk F 32 18.2 4.8 3.2

5 Leonard Houston G 32 31.4 14.0 4.4

11 Jacob Baryenbruch G 32 10.5 2.2 0.7

15 Adam Emmenecker G 32 32.8 8.5 4.6

20 Josh Young G 29 31.6 15.8 2.5

22 Bill Eaddy F 14 2.8 1.6 0.6

23 Josh Parker G 30 7.2 2.1 1.0

24 Klayton Korver F 32 26.7 10.0 4.0

31 JonathanCox F 32 30.8 11.8 8.3

50 John Michael Hall F 32 10.1 3.6 1.2

Roster

No. Player POS GP MIN PTS REB

1 Desire Gabou G 16 2.4 0.0 0.3

3 Tyrone Brazelton G 33 26.7 13.3 2.7

4 A.J. Slaughter G 33 18.9 7.6 2.1

5Ty Rogers G 33 20.8 6.4 2.2

14 Adam Howard G 15 2.4 1.3 0.1

22 B.J. Frazier F 16 4.2 0.4 0.7

20 O. Mendez-Valdez G 33 19.2 5.9 1.7

21 Boris Siakam F 33 17.8 4.7 3.8

23 Mike Walker 27 F 16.9 3.3 4.2

30 Steffphon Pettigrew G-F 33 11.8 4.1 3.0

31 Japeth Aguilar C 2 16.0 4.0 4.0

32 Courtney Lee G 33 29.4 20.4 4.6

35 D.J. Magley F 33 15.7 4.9 3.3

40 Jeremy Evans F 31 20.9 5.8 5.0

41 Matt Maresca F 19 3.2 0.6 0.4

This is one of only a few first-round matchups between teams from mid-major conferences, but it's no surprise either is in the tournament. ¶ Western Kentucky, from the Sun Belt Conference, is in the tournament for the third time since 2001. ¶ And Drake is only one of the stories of the year in college basketball. The Bulldogs were picked to finish ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll but went on a tear to finish 14th in the last Associated Press poll.

Coach: Darrin HornRecord: 27-6



Coach: Keno DavisRecord: 28-4

Best wins

The Bulldogs' signature victory came when they defeated then eighth-ranked Butler on Feb. 23. Josh Young had a career-high 25 points, including the clinching free throws. Drake also had three wins over Missouri Valley Conference runnerup Illinois State (25-9).

Worst losses

The biggest blemish on Drake's resume is certainly an 89-86 loss to conference foe Missouri State, which struggled to finished .500 (17-16). Losses to Southern Illinois, Bradley and St. Mary's were less startling.

About the school

Location: Des Moines, Iowa

Enrollment: 3,150

Famous alumni: Former Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad (law school); 2007 Master champion Zach Johnson

No easy road: Western Kentucky played an intense schedule for a team not in a power conference, taking on Gonzaga and Tennessee as well as South Alabama twice in conference play. The Hilltoppers weren't victorious in any of those contests, but they did learn from them.

"The goal is to prepare you for the tournament, regardless of who you play," said coach Darrin Horn, in his fifth season at WKU.

Long-rangers: This game will feature six regular players who shoot better than 40 percent from three-point range, and it's likely perimeter shooting will be key. The Hilltoppers have four players capable of shooting well from long range, led by Tyrone Brazelton with a team-high 55 3-pointers. Drake's Josh Young has made 40 from behind the arc, shooting 44 percent.

For Western Kentucky, the shooting ability of some of its players is no coincidence.

"We put a high premium on shooting the basketball because of our style of play," Horn said. "We think our system is suited for it, but we also try to recruit that way, too."

Drake's Young and Klayton Korver (48 3-pointers) stretch defenses, allowing teammates to capitalize.

They "can both shoot from 24 or 25 feet," guard Adam Emmenecker said. "It allows me to get in the paint."

Pressing buttons: Look for Western Kentucky to use its trademark press defense to take Drake out of its game.

"They like to get up and down," guard Brazelton said of Drake. "I think our press will be very effective."

Usf coach stan heath says …:"This is one of those flip-of-the-coin games. Drake is a great story, a team out of nowhere, and potentially could be another Butler or George Mason or Kent State. I've had a chance to watch Western Kentucky, and they have outstanding guard play. Drake is the sentimental favorite for a lot of people, but I'll give Western Kentucky the edge."

No. 5 Drake vs. No. 12 Western Kentucky 03/20/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 21, 2008 8:37am]
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