Wichita, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The best and the worst that the Missouri Valley Conference has to offer is on display on Sunday, as the 14th-ranked Wichita State Shockers host the Drake Bulldogs at Koch Arena.
Wichita State continues to build on the Cinderella story from a season ago, logging 17 wins in the first 19 games of 2014-15. One of those defeats came in overtime against nationally-ranked Utah on the road in early December, the other a six-point loss to George Washington on Christmas in the title game of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.
Since bowing to the Colonials, WSU has rattled off seven consecutive wins, all of them coming in conference play. The latest victory was a 76-53 romp over Missouri State a few nights back on the road. The Shockers have now won 25 straight MVC outings, and 27 in a row at home.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have been miserable this season, their four total wins the least in the MVC, with one of those victories coming against a team outside Division I (Simpson). Earlier this week the team was taken down by Illinois State at home, 64-56, dropping it to only 1-6 in conference play.
Not surprisingly, Wichita State leads the all-time series by a 98-47 margin, taking eight of the last 10 encounters. The most recent meeting came earlier this season on New Year's Eve, with the Shockers posting a 66-58 win thanks to Ron Baker who tallied a game-high 23 points, while Jacob Enevold paced the hosts with 12 points and a game-high 15 boards.
The Bulldogs shot only 38.2 percent from the field and 8-of-14 at the free- throw line, performances that sent the team to an eight-point home loss versus Illinois State. C.J. Rivers and Gary Ricks both tallied 10 points for Drake, while Enevold responded with eight points and eight rebounds in the losing cause.
Against the rest of the MVC, Drake is producing only 52.4 ppg on 37.7 percent shooting from the floor. The squad is getting beaten on the glass by five rebounds per game due to the fact that Enevold is the only player pulling down more than 3.3 rpg as he clears 5.6 per outing. Ricks is the lone double-digit scorer with 10.9 ppg, thanks in large part to 42.9 percent accuracy out on the perimeter.
The Shockers led by just six points at the break versus Missouri State, but then dialed up the pressure at both ends of the floor over the final 20 minutes in order to produce the 23-point victory. Four starters scored in double figures for WSU, as Baker, Fred VanVleet and Tekele Cotton all tallied 15 points. Darius Carter tacked on 14 points as the team converted 11-of-21 shots in the perimeter, while limiting the Bears to just 2-of-10 on the outside.
In conference action the Shockers are giving up only 52.1 ppg as opponents shoot a collective 35.9 percent from the floor and 31.5 percent on the perimeter. Baker paces the offense with 15.6 ppg, although Carter is not far behind with his 14.6 ppg, thanks to 53.7 percent accuracy from the floor. Cotton adds another 11.4 ppg and VanVleet (9.1 ppg) distributes 6.0 apg to help move the offense along.