Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg said his Cyclones learned a lot about themselves during their early season loss to Drake last season at the Knapp Center.
In that game, the Bulldogs got 24 points from Ben Simons and beat the Cyclones 74-65, but Iowa State got the last laugh by advancing the NCAA Tournament.
The Cyclones will look to avenge that loss on a neutral court Saturday as the inaugural Hy-Vee Big Four Classic tips off at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
"It's an exciting day to get together in one setting for all four teams," Hoiberg said. "It's good for the state and will be a fun day for the fans."
The Cyclones and Bulldogs will play in the late game, tipping off at 4 p.m. after Northern Iowa plays Iowa at 1:30.
The Big Four Classic will replace the home and home games for Iowa and Iowa State against Drake and Northern Iowa. Moving forward, Iowa and Iowa State will play either Drake or Northern Iowa at Wells Fargo on one day as part of a doubleheader.
Iowa State (7-3) vs. Drake (4-4)
Saturday, 4 p.m.
At Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines
"I am not sure what is going to happen in the future as far as if we will ever get back to the home and homes or not," Hoiberg said. "Like I said, it'll be a fun day, and we'll have to play well to win."
For Iowa State to win, the Cyclones will have to cut down on turnovers, which has plagued them in the early going. ISU turned it over 19 times in a loss to Iowa last weekend but rebounded against Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday with just six miscues and managed to score 93 points in an easy win.
The Cyclones come into the game at 7-3 but have struggled away from Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State has recorded all seven wins at home, while going 0-2 on the road and 0-1 on a neutral court. Meanwhile, Drake is 4-4 but nearly claimed wins against both Xavier and California.
"Drake is very good and will be one of the best shooting teams that we will play this year," Hoiberg said. "Playing against Drake and Northern Iowa is always tough and always will be tough. They really gear up for these games."
Iowa State lost to both Northern Iowa and Drake last year. And the Missouri Valley Conference itself also features two teams ranked in the top 25.
"It's a great league," Hoiberg said of the MVC. "I think they'll have more than one team in the NCAA Tournament this year. Saturday's game will be a challenge, but it will help prepare us for the rest of our season."
Drake comes into the game averaging 77 points per game and shooting just less than 43 percent from 3-point range.
Ben Simons and Richard Carter are two guards that average in double-figures, but the Bulldogs also have a strong presence inside with Jordan Clark and Seth VanDeest.
Simons, who hit four triples and scored 24 points in the Bulldogs' win last year, is averaging a team-high 15.5 points per game, while Clark is scoring 11 points and pulling down nearly 10 rebounds per contest.
"We are trying to learn from every experience," Drake coach Mark Phelps said after the team's win in its most recent game against IPFW. "We needed the win, but we need to continue to get better though."
Hoiberg tinkered with the lineup against Nebraska-Omaha but is unsure of what he will do for Saturday. He said Monday that the coaching staff will evaluate whether to leave Melvin Ejim and Anthony Booker out of the starting lineup. A decision is expected to be made Friday.
Ejim is averaging nearly a double-double per game at 10 points and nine rebounds, but had 13 boards off the bench against UNO.
Will Clyburn and Tyrus McGee lead the Cyclones in scoring at 14 and 13.7 points per game, respectively. Clyburn also averages 7.5 points per game but was held scoreless in the loss at Iowa.
Iowa State can score in bunches, but if it wants to beat Drake outside of Hilton Coliseum on Saturday, the Cyclones will have to take care of the ball.
Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. and follows the UNI-Iowa game.