Sports

Redbirds hope to soar past 16th-ranked Shockers

Wichita, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - As a result of last Wednesday's win at Drake, the 16th-ranked Wichita State Shockers picked up where they left off last season when they won each of their 18 Missouri Valley Conference games.

This evening, the Shockers will entertain the Illinois State Redbirds as they seek their 12th win of the campaign, and seventh in as many opportunities at home.

Illinois State recently had a modest two-game win streak stopped in its MVC opener against visiting Indiana State on New Year's Eve, as the Sycamores prevailed in a 63-61 final. The loss was the fifth in 13 games for the Redbirds this season, and their third in seven home bouts. ISU won its first two road games of the campaign, before stumbling in its most recent (89-77 at Murray State on Dec. 20).

Wichita State bounced back from a 60-54 loss to George Washington to post a 66-58 win at Drake in its league lid-lifter the last time out. The defeat to the Colonials being only the team's second of the season, the other coming in a 69-68 final in overtime at Utah on Dec. 3.

Wichita State leads the all-time series with Illinois State by the slimmest of margins, 38-37, and the Shockers have won the last five meetings.

Tony Wills scored 16 points and MiKyle McIntosh added 11 more, but it wasn't enough as Illinois State dropped a two-point decision to Indiana State last Wednesday. The Redbirds shot just 35.8 percent from the field, which included a 6-of-17 effort from 3-point range, while the Sycamores nailed nine treys and finished at 42.6 percent overall. Both teams were extremely careless with the basketball, as Indiana State committed 24 turnovers and Illinois State 20. The difference however, being the Sycamores scored 26 points off the miscues, and the Redbirds only 15.

For the season, Daishon Knight is the team's leading scorer at 14.4 ppg, while the injured DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell nips at his heels with 14.1 ppg. No other player is averaging double figures, although Bobby Hunter (9.6 ppg) is close to joining the ranks. The Redbirds are outscoring the opposition by 7.7 ppg, while also laying claim to favorable margins in both rebounding (+5.2) and turnovers (+1.9).

Ron Baker poured in 23 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists in leading Wichita State to its recent win over Drake. Tekele Cotton added 17 points, four boards and four helpers for the Shockers, who knocked down 9-of-17 3-point attempts and converted 17-of-23 free throws, all while committing only five turnovers. WSU was outrebounded, 38-29, but held the Bulldogs to 33.3 percent field goal efficiency.

Baker is now averaging 17.1 ppg to pace the Shockers, while Fred VanVleet and Darius Carter net 11.3 ppg apiece. Cotton turns in 9.9 ppg while pacing the team's rebounding effort with 6.3 rpg. VanVleet serves as Wichita State's primary playmaker as both ends of the court, logging 67 assists and 26 steals. The Shockers are scoring 73.7 ppg while permitting 60.1 ppg, and their defensive effort goads the opposition into nearly 15 turnovers per outing.