Peoria, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - With just two games remaining on their regular season schedule, the second-ranked and unbeaten Wichita State Shockers will travel to face the Bradley Braves in a Missouri Valley Conference matchup at Carver Arena.
Wichita State is the last remaining unbeaten team, having won all 29 games on the team's schedule so far. The Shockers easily took care of conference foe Drake on Saturday, defeating the Bulldogs, 83-54.
Bradley finally put an end to a three-game skid on Saturday with a 55-38 defeat of Loyola-Chicago. At 7-9 in Missouri Valley Conference play, the Braves sit nine games back of the Shockers for the conference's top spot.
Bradley leads the all-time series against Wichita State, holding a 71-63 advantage. The gap was closed ever so slightly back on Jan. 14 with a Wichita State win over the Braves, 72-50.
Wichita State opened up the Saturday night contest with Drake on a 7-0 run. Although the Bulldogs went on a run of their own to draw close to the Shockers in the opening minutes, any thought of an upset was erased as the opening stanza continued on. Wichita State closed out the first half with a 31-18 lead over Drake, and ran up 52 points on the Bulldogs in the second half to earn the 29-point victory. Tekele Cotton scored a career-high 21 points in the contest, adding a career-best seven steals to his impressive outing. Fred VanVleet netted 15 points with six assists, and Darius Carter came off the bench to add 15 points of his own. The Shockers connected on 52.5 percent of their field-goal tries in the game.
Cleanthony Early's three-point day on Saturday against Drake didn't disrupt his team-leading scoring average much. The forward still tops the Shockers with 15.8 ppg on 46.4 percent shooting from the field. Early's 84.8 percent shooting mark from the free-throw line ties Ron Baker for the team lead, and his 6.0 rpg average is also a team high. Baker checks in behind Anthony at second on the team in scoring with 13.0 ppg, followed by VanVleet's 12.3 ppg average. VanVleet leads Wichita State with 153 assists and 59 steals on the seasons.
Loyola-Chicago had an extremely difficult time trying to solve Bradley's defense on Saturday. The Braves notched a season-best 14 steals and forced 23 Rambler turnovers in the contest, holding Loyola-Chicago to just 38 points on 26.5 percent shooting. Walt Lemon Jr. was the only Bradley player who tallied a double-digit scoring total in the game, netting 16 points with a team-high five steals. The Braves connected on 38 percent of their shot tries in the contest, but it was enough to get past the Ramblers and end their three-game losing streak.
Lemon has been the go-to scorer for Bradley this season, but has had his fair share of turnover issues. Lemon leads the team at 17.7 ppg on 42 percent shooting this year, and adds a team-high 114 assists and 67 steals, with 108 giveaways. Tyshon Pickett is behind Lemon in scoring at 11.7 ppg, and sports a team-best 7.3 rpg average. Omari Grier rounds out the double-digit scorers this season with 10.5 ppg.