The 19th-ranked Wichita State Shockers set their season title, as they head to Redbird Arena to take on Illinois State in conference bout.
This will be the second encounter this season and 69th in history between Wichita State and the Redbirds. Illinois State holds a 36-32 lead in the rivalry, but the Shockers have won five straight in the series. Wichita State won the first meeting between these programs this season, 65-62 at Charles Koch Arena on Jan. 10th, as it shot 41.5 percent from the floor and held Illinois State to 39.6 percent shooting.
WSU is a win away from outright ownership of the MVC title. Head coach Gregg Marshall had done a terrific job leading the program to its first ranking since 2006-2007. The Shockers won for the 14th time in 15 tries on Saturday as they topped Davidson, 91-74 in non-conference action behind 63.6 percent shooting from the floor. Wichita State has only lost once in a true road game this season. The Shockers could not be playing any better coming into today, as they have outscored their last four opponents by an average of 19.5 ppg.
The Shockers are led by the trio of Garrett Stutz, Joe Ragland, and Toure Murry. Stutz is carrying team-high averages of 14.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Ragland contributes 13.7 points and 3.3 assists per game, while Murry adds 12.1 points and 3.3 assists per contest. Ragland had an incredible outing against Davidson in Saturday's BracketBusters, as he finished with 30 points and seven rebounds. Murry added 16 points and Stutz made an impact on the defensive end with three blocked shots to help the Shockers past the Wildcats.
Illinois State snapped a two-game losing streak its last time out with a 79-75 victory over Oakland on Saturday. Tim Jankovich's team is now 17-11 overall and 8-8 in league action with the win. The Redbirds have not had very much success versus ranked foes, as they are currently riding a 23-game losing streak against top 25 teams. The last ISU win over a ranked opponent came in Dec. 29th, 1987 versus Iowa. The Redbirds came up just short on the road in their first matchup with WSU, and they have outscored their opponents by an average of 4.8 ppg.
Jackie Carmichael is the go-to-guy for the Redbirds, as he is averaging team- bests of 13.8 points and 9.3 boards per game. Tyler Brown is adding 13.1 ppg while Jon Ekey and Nic Moore both get into the mix on the offensive end as well. Carmichael was phenomenal in ISU's win over Oakland on Saturday, as he led the way with 25 points and 19 rebounds. Ekey chipped in 19 points and John Wilkins had 12 in the winning effort.