Drake-Wichita St. Preview
Wichita State’s home winning streak has coincided with the best run the Missouri Valley Conference has seen in 91 years.
The 14th-ranked Shockers look to add another victory to each mark by beating visiting Drake for the seventh consecutive time Sunday.
Coach Gregg Marshall has been most pleased with how Wichita State (17-2, 7-0) hasn’t lost its edge while winning its last five league games by an average of 17.8 points, part of a seven-game winning streak since losing to George Washington on Christmas in Hawaii.
Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton finished with 15 points apiece in the Shockers’ 76-53 victory at Missouri State on Wednesday. That win gave Wichita State its 25th straight in MVC play, the conference’s longest streak since Kansas’ record 34-game run from 1922-24.
"We’re playing some pretty good basketball and our depth is starting to show itself a little bit more," Marshall said. "There’s no slack off. We were able to play everyone and got some really good contributions. Our bench gave us some nice minutes."
The Shockers have held 14 opponents to 60 points or fewer and rank second in the Valley in scoring defense at 57.3 per game.
”We were just pushing them out on the court and making their first entry tough,” Baker said. ”Any time they start their offense farther away from the basket is good for us.”
After two straight on the road the Shockers return for a pair at home, where they’ve won 26 consecutive games for the fourth-longest home winning streak in the nation. Their last loss at Koch Arena was to Evansville on Feb. 27, 2013.
Wichita State has won six straight home meetings with Drake (4-15, 1-6), which has lost 11 straight on the road. The first meeting this season came on the Bulldogs’ home floor, as Baker scored 23 points in the Shockers’ 66-58 victory.
VanVleet was limited with foul trouble in that contest and reserve Shaquille Morris didn’t travel with the team for disciplinary reasons.
That began a stretch of six losses in seven games for Drake, which fell 64-56 at home to Illinois State on Tuesday. C.J. Rivers and Gary Ricks Jr. were the only Bulldogs in double figures with 10 apiece as Drake shot 38.2 percent from the field.
"We have to be able to get things going to the basket, and that will open things up on the perimeter," coach Ray Giacoletti said.
Rivers’ scoring output was one off the freshman’s season high as he usually chooses to be more of a facilitator for players like Ricks, who leads Drake at 11.1 points per game.
The Bulldogs rank ninth in the 10-team Missouri Valley with an average of 59.1 points per contest. That mark would be even lower if not for a surprising 84-78 win over Indiana State last Saturday, when they shot 61.5 percent from the field.
"Coach stresses to make the play for your teammate," Rivers said. "We try to do a good job of that, not only looking for our own shots and our own drives, but also drives leading to passes out to the perimeter for guys like (Ricks), Reed (Timmer) and (Jordan Daniels)."
Drake last beat the Shockers 93-86 in triple overtime Jan. 28, 2012. It hasn’t won in Wichita since a 62-54 victory Dec. 29, 2007.