"I was really motivated for this game," said Sullivan, who limited the sharp-shooting McDonald to just 1-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc. "Last year they really took it to us. We were trying to flip the situation tonight. I wanted to be there and make him put it on the floor. I knew I could stay in front of him. I wanted to guard him. I wanted this challenge."
Sullivan, who improved drastically on his defense in the off-season, did something Larry Eustachy had deemed unthinkable—shutting down one of the state's top players.
"I told Jake after the game if he would have told me when I inherited this little snail of a guard from Minnesota, and he would have flat shut down a guy like McDonald I would've said you're crazy," said ISU's head coach. "It's nothing I've done. He's done it all. He wanted the challenge."
Without the main weapon in its arsenal, Drake struggled to muster much offensively against a Cyclone defense on its game. The Bulldogs shot just 37 percent from the field and were dominated on the perimeter by ISU's battery of Sullivan and Tim Barnes.
Barnes hit on eight consecutive shots at one time and finished with 16 points. He added eight assists and seven rebounds to just one turnover.
"I was looking for my shot a little bit more," said Barnes. "I thought against them it would open up more for my teammates than just passing the ball. Watching film on them, they probably would have backed up off me and played passive with me knowing I wasn't going to shoot the ball. I think that got Jake and (Adam) Haluska open a lot."
Haluska scored in double figures for the ninth consecutive game to open his career, hitting 3-of-5 3-pointers on his way to 13 points.
The Cyclones took a 9-0 lead early as Drake missed its first six shots, then managed to sustain a similar advantage throughout the game. Sullivan's 3-pointer in transition later gave ISU a 16-4 lead at the 14:36 mark. The Cyclones opened their biggest lead of the half with 4:45 remaining with a jumper from Barnes.
"We missed some easy shots early, but we didn't get a whole lot of good shots," said Drake head coach Kurt Kanaskie. "Our shot selection was not good and we didn't execute when things got tough. They had a lot to do with that. We just did not respond to their physical play. They guard you. Luke didn't have many good looks. This is the best defensive team we've played against, and the toughest."
Drake cut the deficit to nine points, 45-36, early in the second half when J.J. Sola hit the front end of a one-and-one. However, ISU gradually pulled away from that point on. Marcus Jefferson's fast-break dunk with 7:43 to play made it 66-47, then Sullivan's jumper four minutes later gave the Cyclones their biggest lead of the game at 72-51.
ISU cruised to the 21-point victory in spite of committing 21 team fouls and putting its opponent in the bonus just five minutes into the second half.
Much of Drake's scoring came inside, courtesy of center Greg Danielson, who posted a game-high 18 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Many of those points were on easy layups after ISU's post defense broke down.
"We really emphasized limiting their catches," said the Cyclones' Jackson Vroman. "We went for a little too many steals and gambled a little bit. That led to open shots when the backside wasn't there. They have a bunch of shooters, so you've got to really stay home. It didn't work out sometimes, but for the most part it went alright."
ISU gets seven days off to prepare for another in-state foe, Northern Iowa, on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.