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(5) Wichita State (20-0) at Drake (11-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 25, 8:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Knapp Center (7,152) -- Des Moines, Iowa. Television: KS22, Mediacom. Home Record: WSU 12-0, Drake 5-3. Away Record: WSU 6-0, Drake 4-5. Neutral Record: WSU 2-0, Drake 2-0. Conference Record: WSU 7-0, Drake 2-5. Series Record: Wichita State leads, 96-47.
GAME NOTES: One of only three teams still without a loss this season, the Wichita State Shockers pay a visit to the Drake Bulldogs on Saturday night for a Missouri Valley Conference showdown at the Knapp Center.
The Shockers have faced 20 teams and all 20 have failed to knock them off. The overwhelming success has pushed Wichita State to the fifth spot in the most recent AP poll, and to a 7-0 mark in the MVC. The Shockers play their next two games at home against Loyola-Chicago and Evansville.
Drake snapped a five-game losing streak on Wednesday, escaping with a 57-54 road win over Southern Illinois. The Bulldogs improved to 11-8 overall with the victory, although it was just their second triumph in seven league tests. A home date against Missouri State is next on the schedule.
Wichita State swept the season series with Drake a year ago, and has won five of the last six meetings overall. The Shockers have dominated the all-time series, with a 96-47 record against the Bulldogs.
Cleanthony Early scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Wichita State to a 70-55 win over Illinois State on Wednesday. The Shockers had a massive scoring advantage from beyond the arc (33-3), while limiting the Redbirds to 32.2 percent shooting efficiency.
Not only does Wichita State lead the MVC in the standings, it also tops the league in scoring (75.2 ppg), rebounds (39.8 ppg), points allowed (59.8 ppg) and opponent field goal percentage (.389). Early (15.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is the top scoring option for the team. His double-double against Illinois State was his fourth of the season, and second in league action. Ron Baker (13.1 ppg, 3.1 apg) and Fred Van Vleet are steady performers in the backcourt, with each shooting well while limiting their mistakes when handling the ball.
Aaron Hawley scored a game-high 19 points as Drake held off Southern Illinois the last time out. The Bulldogs limited the Salukis to 34.5 percent shooting, while outscoring them 24-12 from beyond the arc. Drake also claimed a 40-32 edge on the boards, although they had 10 more turnovers than their opponents.
Hawley (10.3 ppg) is one of three players averaging in double figures for the Bulldogs, although he is certainly not the team's first option. That distinction belongs to Richard Carter (17.9 ppg), who is third in the league in scoring. Carter finished with 12 points and four assists against SIU for his third straight double-figure performance. Jordan Daniels (12.7 ppg) can also knock down shots, but he had only eight points last time out. As a team, the Bulldogs are scoring 71.7 ppg and shooting 45.5 percent from the floor, ranking fifth in the MVC in each category.
One of the Bulldogs' biggest weaknesses has been a lack of production inside. That is a flaw the Shockers will easily exploit, especially if Early plays to the level he is capable.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wichita State 78, Drake 63
01/25 10:16:12 ET
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