Wichita, KS (World Wide Gamble) - Despite being overshadowed by the Creighton Bluejays for much of the season, the 15th-ranked Wichita State Shockers now have control of the Missouri Valley Conference as they settle in against the Indiana State Sycamores on Tuesday night.
The Shockers, who have just a pair of setbacks this season against Tennessee and Evansville, are riding a four-game win streak and have captured 10 victories in the last 11 outings overall. On Saturday night the team routed the Bradley Braves at home in a 73-39 final to move to 8-1 in MVC and into sole possession of first place in the standings as WSU remained perfect at home through 12 games.
Now sporting a 19-game home win streak overall, the second-longest run ever for the program, WSU enters play this week tied with both top-ranked Michigan and seventh-ranked Gonzaga for the most wins in the country overall at 19.
As for the Sycamores, they've been a bit sporadic in recent weeks, sporting a 4-3 mark over the last seven outings. On Saturday Indiana State hosted Northern Iowa and just squeaked by in a 59-58 final. The victory was the third in the last four games overall and now the team is 6-3 in conference play which has it all alone in third place behind only WSU and Creighton.
Dating back to the 1977-78 campaign, the series between the teams is under the control of the Shockers who own a 50-28 edge versus Indiana State. Wichita State won all three meetings a season ago and has taken eight of the last nine overall, save for a 61-54 setback during the MVC Tournament in 2011.
Trailing by a point with time winding down, the Sycamores needed a minor miracle against Northern Iowa at the Hulman Center on Saturday afternoon. A three-pointer by Jake Odum that would have won the game missed the mark, but he was fouled with just 0.3 seconds remaining and after missing his first free-throw try he knocked down the other two in order to give ISU the 58-57 win against the Panthers. Odum finished with a game-high 16 points, as well as seven rebounds and five assists. R.J. Mahurin and Manny Arop contributed 14 and 10 points, respectively, for the hosts as well.
Through nine conference games this season the Sycamores are producing a modest 67.1 ppg, slightly better than the competition at 64.9 ppg. One of the better clutch players in the MVC, Odum is first on the unit with his 13.6 ppg and has delivered an average of almost four assists per contest as well. Arop (12.6 ppg) and Justin Gant (10.8 ppg) are both shooting at least 50.0 percent from the floor.
While shooting 51.0 percent from the field on Saturday night, including 6- of-15 behind the 3-point line, Wichita State held the Braves to a mere 31.9 percent accuracy from the field and forced almost as many turnovers (14) as it allowed field goals (15). Nick Wiggins led a quartet of double-digit scorers for the Shockers with 12 points off the bench, hitting all three of his triples, while fellow reserve Jake White posted 11 points and nine rebounds as the hosts crushed Bradley on the glass, 44-21. Cleanthony Early and Malcolm Armstead both tallied 10 points, the latter filling his stat line with eight assists, five rebounds and four steals as well.
In the last five games the Shockers have had a different leading scorer in four bouts, but overall this season the team is being paced by Early with his 15.2 ppg. Although he has appeared in only 14 of the unit's 21 contests, Carl Hall (12.9 ppg) is the only other double-digit scorer and is also first on the glass with close to eight boards per game, which come in handy for a program beating opponents on the glass by nine caroms per game right now.