Wichita St.-Illinois St. Preview
Ten teams have started with 20 victories over the last 11 seasons.
Wichita State is in position to join that list.
The fifth-ranked Shockers look to continue their unbeaten start and end Illinois State's seven-game home win streak Wednesday night.
Wichita State (19-0, 6-0 Missouri Valley) is among three unbeaten teams in the nation and can become the first to begin 20-0 since Syracuse and Murray State did it two seasons ago.
The Shockers took over sole possession of the conference lead with ease with Saturday's 68-48 rout of Indiana State, which fell one game back. In a matchup of the MVC's top defenses in terms of field-goal percentage, Wichita State held the Sycamores to a season-low 31.4 from the field.
''To beat the No. 2 team in the league like that, it's a statement in itself,'' guard Ron Baker said. ''But we're the kind of team that's going to worry about the next game and getting better anyway.''
The next game is against an Illinois State squad that's tied for third place and has won three straight since losing 66-47 at Wichita State on Jan. 18. The Redbirds shot 32.7 percent and finished with their lowest point total of the season in that game.
"We just forced some bad shots," Illinois State coach Dan Muller said. "Now they make you force bad shots because they're so solid and tough on the defensive end but our shot selection wasn't great."
Muller was pleased with his team's defense in that contest. The Redbirds (11-7, 4-2) limited Fred VanVleet to six points - a season low in a conference game.
VanVleet, averaging a team-high 16.3 points in MVC play, still made his presence felt with 10 assists. Several of those came on lobs to the rim as he picked apart Illinois State's 2-3 zone defense.
"They start four guards and a big in that 2-3 zone," said VanVleet after the contest. "So when we have 6-8 and 6-9 guys who can jump up to the square, we wanted to take advantage of that as much as we can."
Redbirds freshman center Reggie Lynch made his second career start in that game and established a season high with four blocks.
Lynch leads the MVC with 2.5 blocks per game, but no conference player has fouled out more times than his five.
"He's very physical, he's got very good hands," Muller said. "He's got a good maturity for being a freshman, especially for a big man. He's good with the ball."
The Redbirds are shooting an MVC-low 40.8 percent. Top scorers Daishon Knight and Zach Lofton combine to average 24.8 points, but totaled 13 in the first meeting.
The Shockers are 5-0 on the road. They rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit for a 72-69 overtime win over Missouri State in their last away game Jan. 11.
"It's very difficult to win on the road in college basketball, as people know," coach Gregg Marshall said. "But somehow we've discovered a pretty good formula to have success on the road so we just have to keep it up."
Wichita State has taken 10 of the last 11 meetings, including eight straight in the regular season.