Wichita, KS – The 19th-ranked Wichita State Shockers will conclude their regular season seeking revenge against the only opponent to beat them in 2012, as they welcome the Drake Bulldogs to Charles Koch Arena for Missouri Valley Conference action.
The Bulldogs are one of two MVC teams to down Wichita State this season. After losing to Creighton on New Year's Eve, the Shockers avenged their loss with a decisive 89-69 victory on Feb. 11th. Wichita State will attempt to follow the same blueprint tonight against the Bulldogs, who handed the Shockers a 93-86 loss in a triple overtime thriller on Jan. 28th. Wichita State tied its season-high with 18 committed turnovers in the initial meeting, which could be an issue again as Drake is averaging 7.0 steals per game.
Mark Phelps's Bulldogs are 16-13 overall and tied for third in the MVC with Missouri State. Drake's 78-63 victory over Southern Illinois on Wednesday was the third in four tries and improved its league record to 9-8. The Bulldogs were very aggressive against the Salukis on Wednesday, as they managed to attempt 37 free throws in the triumph. Drake is slightly outscoring its opponents this season, as it averages 67.5 ppg while allowing opponents to score 66.7 ppg.
Drake will look to its dynamic duo of Rayvonte Rice and Ben Simons to lead the charge this evening. Rice has had a tremendous season, and his 16.5-point per game scoring average is the best by a Bulldog in 10 seasons. Simons is second on the team in scoring with an average of 16.0 ppg thanks to frequent bombs from beyond the arc. Simons leads the MVC with 2.5 makes from three-point range per game. Simons had 14 points his last time out as he returned to action after missing five games due to illness. Jordan Clarke is the top rebounder for Drake with 6.6 rpg.
WSU clinched outright ownership of the MVC title its last time out with a 68-55 win over the Illinois State Redbirds. Head coach Gregg Marshall has done a terrific job leading the program to its first ranking since 2006-2007. The Shockers victory over Illinois State was its eighth win in a row and its 15th in 16 tries. Wichita State has only lost once in at home this season. The Shockers have been superior in league play, as they have outscored their MVC competition by an average of 13.5 ppg.
The Shockers are led by the trio of Garrett Stutz, Joe Ragland, and Toure Murry. Stutz is carrying team-high averages of 14.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Ragland contributes 13.7 points and 3.5 assists per game, while Murry adds 12.0 points and 3.3 assists per contest. Ragland has been clutch in WSU's biggest games of the season as scored 30 points versus Davidson, 24 against Creighton, and 31 in the win over UNLV. Murry is providing senior leadership and is another threat on offense with an average of 12.0 ppg.