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Wichita State (12-1) at Drake (6-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 2, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Knapp Center (7,152) -- Des Moines, Iowa. Television: KS22. Home Record: Wichita State 8-0, Drake 4-1. Away Record: Wichita State 2-1, Drake 1-3. Neutral Record: Wichita State 2-0, Drake 1-2. Conference Record: Wichita State 1-0, Drake 0-1. Series Record: Wichita State leads, 93-46.
GAMES NOTES: In the first of back-to-back home games the Drake Bulldogs will play host to the Wichita State Shockers in a Missouri Valley Conference game at the Knapp Center.
This is the first of two road tests for the Shockers who come into play boasting an impressive 12-1 overall record. The Shockers posted a 66-41 victory over Northern Iowa On Sunday in their MVC opener. The win was the third straight for the Shockers. Wichita State has played just three games on the road previously, with wins in two of them. Up next, the Shockers battle Bradley.
Drake was defeated by Bradley, 67-57, in its first conference tilt of the season on Saturday. The win came on the heels of consecutive losses for the Bulldogs, who are 6-6 overall. That includes a 4-1 mark at the Knapp Center.
Last year these two teams split the season series with each coming out on top on their home courts. Wichita State still has a commanding 93-46 lead in the all-time series.
In its win over Northern Iowa, Wichita State blanketed the Panthers and limited them to just 15 total field goals and 32.6 percent shooting in the game. The Shockers really controlled the board, as well with a 40-22 edge in rebounds. Cleanthony Early scored a game-high 16 points and brought in six rebounds.
The win over Northern Iowa was a perfect snapshot of Wichita State's style of play. The Shockers lead the MVC in rebounding (38.9 pg) and hold a +9.3 edge on the glass. The Shockers are also the best defensive team in the conference, allowing just 57.2 points per game on 38.0 percent shooting. The Shockers then put up 70.0 points per game while shooting a solid 45.1 percent from the field. The Shockers have managed to survive without leading scorer Carl Hall (13.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who has been out since mid-December after undergoing thumb surgery. Early (13.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) has made that transition a bit easier, while Malcolm Armstead (8.0 ppg) and Demetric Williams (8.3 ppg) have been called on as scorers more often.
After going into halftime trailing by just two points, Drake allowed Bradley to control the second half. The Braves led by as many as 18 points in the final 20 minutes while the Bulldogs shot at just a 33.3 percent rate. Drake lost despite a sizable edge in rebounds (46-34) by turning the ball over more than twice as many times (18) as the Braves (eight).
The Bulldogs are the third-highest scoring team in the conference (74.6 ppg) while shooting just a notch above the Shockers (45.4 FG percentage). Forward Ben Simons (15.0 ppg) is the top scorer. Simons spreads the floor with his ability to shoot from beyond the arc, however his success rate has dipped to below 40 percent after he shot at a 42.0 percent clip in each of the last two seasons. Seth VanDeest (11.6 ppg) is the second option, while Jordan Clarke (9.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg) is one of a few capable rebounders.
Wichita State is too dominant on defense and on the interior for Drake to contend with in this contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wichita State 74, Drake 61
01/02 10:35:58 ET