The 24th-ranked Wichita State Shockers will attempt to stay unbeaten on the season, as they play host to the Northern Colorado Bears on Saturday night at Koch Arena.
The first month of the 2012-13 campaign has not started off according to plan for Northern Colorado, as it has lost five of its first six matchups, including all four away from home. The Bears' 76-59 loss at Northern Iowa on Wednesday was their fifth straight after winning the opener.
Wichita State has started the season a perfect 8-0, which has allowed it to sneak into the Top-25. The Shockers have collected signature wins at VCU (53-51) and versus DePaul (75-62) and Iowa (75-63) in Mexico en route to the Cancun Challenge title. They most recently visited Air Force last Sunday, pulling away in the second half to claim a 70-67 win.
The all-time series is tied at 1-1, but the teams haven't faced each another since the 1939-40 season.
Northern Colorado has been respectable at the offensive end of the court in the first month of the season, averaging nearly 72 ppg on 45.8 percent shooting from the field, but much of that is skewed due to its 127-point outburst against Southwest in the opener, as it averages just 60.8 ppg in its five losses. The Bears weren't terrible from the floor against Northern Iowa the last time out (.415), but it still lost by double digits in allowing the Panthers to make 52 percent of their field goals while getting outrebounded by a 35-25 margin. Tate Unruh went just 5-of-13 from the field, but four of those buckets came from beyond the arc en route to 14 points. Tevin Svihovec scored a team-high 16 points, and Paul Garnica added 15 off the bench. Svihovec (12.0 ppg) and Unruh (11.7 ppg) are the leading scorers for the Bears, with Svihovec helping himself with more than five free throw attempts per contest. Derrick Barden (8.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg) brings stability to the frontcourt.
The Shockers have been a well-oiled machine in the early going, outscoring their opponents by more than 13.0 ppg while establishing considerable differences between their field goal percentage (.459) and field goal percentage defense (.378). Things were much tighter in the recent clash with Air Force, but they stepped up their game from the field, shooting 58.3 percent, to hang on for the three-point victory. Carl Hall was nearly perfect, hitting 9-of-10 field goal attempts for 21 points while pulling down 10 rebounds. Cleanthony Early (12 points) and Demetric Williams (10 points) also had productive days scoring the basketball. Hall is the team's catalyst, racking up 14.5 ppg on 54.7 percent from the field, 8.1 rpg, and 1.6 bpg. Early (13.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg) has also been a consistent performer. Malcolm Armstead (7.5 ppg) and Williams (6.9 ppg) share duties as the team's top distributor, as the two combine to hand out 5.9 apg.