Beat goes on for now-ranked Drake
DES MOINES — Tremell Murphy scored a career-high 30 points and No. 25 Drake rolled past Illinois State 95-60 on Monday night in the Bulldogs’ first game as a ranked team in nearly 13 years.
ShanQuan Hemphill had 18 points for the Bulldogs (17-0, 8-0 Missouri Valley Conference), who improved to 37-4 in the Knapp Center under coach Darian DeVries.
“It feels good, but you’re never satisfied,” Murphy said. “You have to keep getting better.”
Antonio Reeves led Illinois State (5-12, 2-9) with 20 points.
The Bulldogs had little trouble with the Redbirds after struggling to a 78-76 overtime win in Sunday’s series opener. Reeves had 27 points in the first meeting.
“Obviously, we got the ball moving a lot more,” Drake guard Roman Penn said. “Just getting moving and getting out in transition.”
Murphy finished 6 of 10 from 3-point range as Drake easily exceeded its average of 82.2 points per game.
Drake gradually built a double-digit lead and went up 27-12 on consecutive 3-pointers by Murphy.
“He’s been pretty solid all year,” DeVries said. “He just hasn’t had that breakout night. Tonight was certainly that.”
The Bulldogs hit 6 of 17 attempts from 3-point range in the first half and led 39-24 at the break.
Murphy continued his torrid shooting in the second half, hitting a jumper that extended the margin to 52-32. He followed with a 3-pointer and jumper that gave Drake a 65-38 advantage with 11:42 remaining.
“We’ve been waiting on Tremell all year,” Penn said. “We’re all happy for him.”
Illinois State finished 6 of 27 from beyond the arc.
Drake is ranked for the first time since March 2008. That was also the last time the Bulldogs earned an NCAA Tournament berth.
“I think it’s nice recognition for our guys,” DeVries said. “I’m happy for them and what they’ve done to this point.”
Drake began the week one of three undefeated teams nationally and is off to the best start in school history. The Bulldogs are the first team from the Missouri Valley Conference to be ranked since 2017.
Illinois State: Hosts Missouri State on Saturday and again on Sunday.
Drake: At Valparaiso on Saturday and again on Sunday.