Illinois State (9-8) at Wichita State (15-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 16, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Charles Koch Arena (10,500) -- Wichita, Kansas. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: ISU 6-4, WSU 9-0. Away Record: ISU 2-3, WSU 4-2. Neutral Record: ISU 1-1, WSU 2-0. Conference Record: ISU 0-5, WSU 4-1. Series Record: Illinois State leads, 37-33.
GAME NOTES: The Wichita State Shockers hope their time outside of the Top-25 is short-lived, as they turn their attention to the visiting Illinois State Redbirds for Wednesday's Missouri Valley Conference clash.
Illinois State's season started out fine enough, the team winning nine of its first 12 games, but once MVC play began things started to fall apart. The Redbirds are in the midst of a five-game losing streak, all coming in conference, with their most recent setback occurring last Saturday in an 82-77 final at home versus Drake.
Wichita State streaked out to a 15-1 start and was rewarded with a spot among the nationally-ranked, but a 71-67 loss at Evansville this past Sunday bounced the team from that lofty perch. Still, along with Creighton, the Shockers appear to be the class of the MVC, and they'll try to keep their perfect home record (9-0) in tact with a win tonight.
Illinois State leads the all-time series with Wichita State, 37-33, but the Redbirds come in seeking their first win on the Shockers' home floor since 2008.
Despite their lackluster record, scoring hasn't been the issue for the Redbirds, who average 77.1 ppg in hitting 48 percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a 35.2 percent showing from 3-point range. The team boasts three double-digit scorers, led by Jackie Carmichael and his 17.7 ppg, which ranks him second in the MVC. Far from a one-trick pony, Carmichael leads the league in rebounding (8.9 rpg), and he averages more than two blocked shots per outing. Tyler Brown (15.3 ppg) and Bryant Allen (10.2 ppg) have been productive as well, but ISU's defensive effort leaves a bit to be desired as foes are generating nearly 70 ppg behind 35 percent efficiency behind the arc. The saving grace there is the fact that the Redbirds goad the opposition into 16.5 turnovers per tilt. Johnny Hill had a career game with 24 points and nine rebounds, but it wasn't enough as Illinois State lost at home to Drake over the weekend. Allen added 22 points by draining five 3-pointers, and Carmichael was his usual self in tallying 19 points and 12 boards to record his third straight double-double and his sixth in the last seven games. Drake converted 10-of-24 long-range attempts, and shot 47.5 percent from the field overall.
Wichita State is getting the job done at both ends of the floor, the team averaging 70.8 ppg while allowing just 59.8 ppg. The Shockers have a pair of double-digit scorers in Cleanthony Early (15.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Carl Hall (13.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg), although the latter has missed significant time with a thumb injury. He is listed as questionable for this contest. In all, WSU has a total of nine guys averaging at least 4.1 ppg, and the team owns a resounding +8.6 margin on the glass, while at the same taking advantage of nearly 15 turnovers per outing. Malcolm Armstead was high man for the Shockers in their recent loss to Evansville, netting 21 points in hitting half of the team's six 3-pointers. Early tacked on 16 points by going a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line. As a collective unit, Wichita State made good on 54.3 percent of its field goal attempts compared to 44.9 percent for the Purple Aces. The Shockers easily won the rebounding battle (36-21), but the one glaring negative was their 22 turnovers. By comparison, EU was guilty of only nine miscues.
Despite the best effort of Carmichael and his teammates, the Shockers are clearly the better team in this matchup. Expect them to bounce back with yet another satisfying home win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wichita State 74, Illinois State 63
01/16 10:35:24 ET