FACTS & STATS: Site: Charles Koch Arena (10,506) -- Wichita, Kansas. Television: Fox Sports Midwest. Home Record: MSU 6-6, WSU 12-1. Away Record: MSU 1-9, WSU 5-4. Neutral Record: MSU 0-2, WSU 2-0. Conference Record: MSU 5-7, WSU 8-4. Series Record: Series tied, 30-30.
GAME NOTES: The Wichita State Shockers will once again seek their first win in the month of February as they host the Missouri State Bears at Charles Koch Arena for a Missouri Valley Conference bout.
This matchup will break the all-time series tie, as the teams have split the first 60 meetings in the series that dates back to the 1941-42 season. The Bears are 6-20 all-time in Wichita, but two of their last three losses at Koch Arena have been by one and two points, respectively. WSU has won three in a row in the series, including a 62-52 win in Springfield earlier this season (Jan. 23).
Missouri State has played tough along the way to its misleading 7-17 record. The Bears dropped a 48-37 decision at Northern Iowa on Tuesday to fall to a 5-7 mark in MVC action, pinning them in a three-way tie with Illinois State and Drake in second to last place. Senior guard Anthony Downing is pacing the team in the scoring column with 14 ppg, but he has been held to nine points in each of the last three games while going 9-of-34 from the field during that span.
Downing's nine points in the loss to UNI were a team-high as Missouri State posted a school-record for fewest points in a MVC contest. Dorrian Williams and Christian Kirk added 8 points apiece. Downing and Drew Wilson added 7 rebounds to the MSU ledger as the visitors out-rebounded the Panthers, 35-31, including 12 offensive boards. The Bears are the worst offensive unit in the conference with an average of only 60.0 ppg, but they are sitting in fourth place defensively with an allowed average of only 64.3 ppg.
The Shockers' excellent 19-2 start to the season gave the impression that they were the class of the MVC. However, WSU has since lost three in a row to Indiana State (68-55), UNI (57-52), and most recently, Southern Illinois (64-62). The trio of losses caused WSU to fall to second place in the league standings with an 8-4 MVC record that puts it one game back of Creighton. Junior forward Cleanthony Early is leading the squad with 14.6 points and 5.3 boards per game.
Early struggled against SIU, finishing 3-of-9 from the floor for only seven points to snap a 13-game streak of double-digit outings. Demetric Williams led the Shockers with 15 points and seven rebounds. He shot 5-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-4 from behind the arc. Tekele Cotton added 10 points and Carl Hall had eight points and three blocks. The Shockers were knotted up with SIU in the closing seconds when Ehimen Orukpe was called for goaltending, which ultimately gave the Salukis the decision. Wichita State shot 22-for-47 (.468) from the field, including 8-for-16 from behind the arc. It also won the rebounding battle, 33-27.
The Shockers have been a drastically different team in recent weeks, as they are completely out of sync offensively. WSU should be hungry for a victory, and its homecourt edge will be helpful in accomplishing that goal. Missouri State's feisty play will keep it in the game though, and a few big plays could swing this one in the visitor's favor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wichita State 71, Missouri State 63
02/09 10:37:55 ET
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