Wichita, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - First place in the Missouri Valley Conference will be put on the line on Saturday afternoon, as the fifth-ranked Wichita State Shockers welcome the Indiana State Sycamores to Charles Koch Arena.
Indiana State has won seven straight games overall, which includes a flawless 5-0 start in the MVC. It is also an impressive 6-2 on the road, but it has yet to face a task as difficult as this matchup with a top-five team. The Sycamores last played on Wednesday night and made easy work of Missouri State at home, 70-55.
At 18-0, Wichita State is one of just three remaining unbeaten teams in Division I, joining Arizona and Syracuse. The Shockers remained perfect following a Tuesday night victory at home versus Bradley, 72-50, to keep pace with Indiana State in the MVC at 5-0.
The season series was split in 2012-13, with each team winning on the road. Wichita State holds a 51-29 over Indiana State all-time.
The Sycamores opened up a comfortable 12-point lead at the half of their most recent contest and their advantage was never threatened in the second stanza by Missouri State. They shot a stellar 48.2 percent from the field in the triumph and their strong defensive effort was highlighted by allowing Missouri State to drain only 2-of-14 from 3-point range. Manny Arop, Dawon Cummings and Khristian Smith all poured in 14 points to pace the effort, while Demetrius Moore was also solid with 12 points and seven rebounds.
On the season, Indiana State has performed very well on both ends of the floor, as they shoot a lofty 48.7 percent from the field for 76.7 ppg, while allowing a mere 68.4 ppg on 44.7 percent shooting. It also owns positive margins in terms of rebounding (+1.9) and turnovers (+1.6). The balanced squad has five players averaging in double figures, led by Arop and Jake Odum at 12.5 ppg, with Odum also boasting an excellent assist (88) to turnover (33) ratio. Justin Gant (11.3 ppg) and Smith (10.6 ppg) both shoot greater than 50 percent from the field, while Cummings (10.9 ppg) has drained 28 3-pointers at a 38.9 percent clip.
It was far from Wichita State's most impressive offensive outing earlier in the week, as it shot just 39.6 percent from the floor, but it still cruised to a 22-point victory by holding Bradley to a mere 35.2 percent shooting and by winning both the rebounding (41-31) and the turnover (13-9) battles. Fred VanVleet led the charge with 22 points (on 7-of-10 from the field), seven rebounds and three assists. Darius Carter helped out in just 14 minutes off the bench with 11 points.
To no one's surprise, the Shockers have dominated both ends of the court this season en route to their perfect record, as they outshoot their opponents from the field, 44.7 percent to 39.7 percent, for a +15.1 scoring margin. Adding to their impressive resume its their strong margins in the rebounding (+7.9) and turnover (+3.8) departments, but if they have one weakness it comes from beyond the arc, where they shoot just 32.7 percent. Cleanthony Early has proven himself to be one of the MVC's top forwards with 16.0 ppg and 6.6 rpg, while shooting 82.6 percent from the free-throw line. VanVleet and Ron Baker patrol the perimeter with 12.8 ppg apiece, and the duo have combined to hand out 8.5 apg. Tekele Cotton narrowly misses the double-digit scorer's club with 9.6 ppg.