Wichita State poised to begin another run of MVC success
Now that its lengthy winning streak in the Missouri Valley Conference is in the past, Wichita State is poised to begin another run of success.
The visiting No. 16 Shockers can get back on track with an 11th straight victory over a struggling Bradley squad that could still be without its leading scorer Wednesday night.
Wichita State's 30-game Valley win streak ended Saturday when it shot 35.4 percent and allowed then-No. 18 Northern Iowa to go 24 of 40 from the field in a 70-54 road loss.
"The best team won," Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said. "We won 30 in a row. I've got to start a new streak."
The Shockers (19-3, 9-1), who get another crack at UNI at home in the regular-season finale Feb. 28, should feel confident they can begin another run while facing two sub-.500 teams this week. However, that will require a bit of fine-tuning.
Wichita State has shot worse than 41.0 percent in the last two games, though Marshall's players felt good about their attempts Saturday.
"We got good looks. That's the most disappointing part," said guard Fred VanVleet, who had 18 points and went 10 of 11 at the free throw line but was 3 of 10 from the field.
The Shockers also were pressured into 11 turnovers after committing more than nine only once in the previous nine contests.
Wichita State allowed 70 or more points for the second time this season and more than 55 for the first time in eight games. It had allowed an average of 50.2 points on 36.7 percent shooting during a season-best nine-game win streak that also ended.
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Though it seems a visit to Bradley (7-16, 2-8) would help the Shockers get back on track, they're looking for a more complete effort than in the last meeting.
They overcame 37 percent shooting in the first half and a one-point deficit at the break by going 12 of 24 from the floor and outscoring the Braves 36-15 over the final 20 minutes in a 63-43 win Jan. 7.
"I didn't recognize that team, that effort, that execution, that determination," Marshall said about his squad's first-half performance.
The Shockers, though, have held the Braves to 45.3 points per game on 32.0 percent shooting while winning the last four meetings by an average of 24.0 points.
Darius Carter had 19 points, Ron Baker added 12 and Illinois native VanVleet scored seven but recorded nine assists in last month's victory, which began a stretch of seven losses in eight games for the Braves.
A foot injury kept Bradley guard Warren Jones (13.9 points per game) out of the first meeting, and he could miss a second consecutive contest after being arrested Thursday at a Peoria, Ill., strip club on misdemeanor charges of obstruction of identification and criminal trespass.
Bradley coach Geno Ford called Jones' actions "unacceptable" and said the school will follow disciplinary procedures.
Jones, who totaled 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting in his previous two games, did not play in Saturday's 64-58 loss at Indiana State.
Teammate Tramique Sutherland (11.0 ppg), who scored 10 against the Shockers, had 17 on Saturday after totaling eight in the previous two contests.
Bradley has dropped 11 straight against ranked opponents since a 68-59 victory over then-No. 19 Northern Iowa on Feb. 13, 2010.