Illinois State (8-6) at (6) Wichita State (15-0)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 8, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Charles Koch Arena (10,300) -- Wichita, Kansas.
Television: KS22. Home Record: ISU 5-2, WSU 9-0. Away Record: ISU 2-3, WSU
4-0. Neutral Record: ISU 1-1, WSU 2-0. Conference Record: ISU 1-1, WSU 2-0.
Series Record: Illinois State leads, 37-36.
GAME NOTES: One of the last of the unbeatens in Division I basketball, the
sixth-ranked Wichita State Shockers put their unblemished record on the line
tonight as they clash with the Illinois State Redbirds in Missouri Valley
Conference action at Koch Arena.
Wichita State is not completely new to this lofty position in the national
polls, having ascended to the top spot in December of 1964 and placing as high
as second as recently as the 1981-82 campaign. The team is off to the best
start in program history, and is also enjoying its longest overall win streak
at 15 games. On Sunday, the Shockers won by double digits for the fourth game
in a row with a 67-53 victory over Northern Iowa at home.
As for the Redbirds, they too were in action on Sunday, clashing with visiting
Southern Illinois, as they held the Salukis to a season-low 48 points in an
18-point victory at Redbird Arena. The win was the third in the last four
outings for the program and moved it to 5-2 at home.
Despite the status of the Shockers at the moment, the all-time series between
these two teams favors Illinois State by a scant 37-36 margin. However,
Wichita State did win the most recent meeting last March, 66-51.
Zach Lofton scored 18 points as the Illinois State Redbirds delivered a 66-48
win over SIU on Sunday afternoon. Also scoring in double figures for the
Redbirds was Bobby Hunter with 15 points, hitting all seven of his free-throw
attempts off the bench for a team that has now won five straight games at
home. Defensively, the Redbirds held the visitors to just 17 field goals
against 14 turnovers, and a mere 3-of-14 showing behind the 3-point line.
Lofton, who has come off the bench in half of the team's 14 games this season,
is second on the unit in scoring with 11.7 ppg, thanks mostly to his 85.0
percent effort at the free-throw line. Unfortunately, Lofton has made a mere
30.7 percent of his field goals and 28.0 percent beyond the arc. Daishon
Knight (14.2 ppg) paces the program in scoring overall, but he too has had his
troubles from the field with only 37.6 percent shooting. Granted, his 34.7
percent out on the perimeter is much better than Lofton's, but still the team
as a whole comes in at only 33.6 percent from the outside.
The meeting with UNI started out rather rough for the Shockers, falling behind
by double digits in the first half as they shot just 33.3 percent from the
floor, but the hosts regained their footing, led by eight at the break and
then held on for the win. Fred VanVleet posted a team-best 22 points on 8-
of-12 shooting from the field, while Cleanthony Early tacked on 18 points and
seven rebounds in order to combat his four turnovers. Wichita State suffered
only six miscues the entire game, helping to overcome a mere 6-of-25 showing
from behind the 3-point line.
VanVleet, who on Monday was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the
Week, shot close to 62 percent from the field as he averaged 19.5 ppg in the
team's two victories last week. After 15 games, VanVleet is third on the team
in scoring with 12.4 ppg, trailing Early (16.6 ppg) and Ron Baker (13.1 ppg).
The fourth on the list of double-digit scorers for the Shockers is Tekele
Cotton with his 10.3 ppg, although his 29.4 percent accuracy beyond the arc
falls far below the efforts of the other three offensive performers. As a
team, WSU has made good on just 32.9 percent out on the perimeter, yet that's
still better than the 31.0 percent by the competition.
Defense has been the strength of the Shockers all along, holding opponents to
only 61.8 ppg, something Illinois State will find out the hard way tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wichita State 71, Illinois State 55
01/08 10:31:55 ET