Fred VanVleet gave Wichita State fans a scare his last time out when his left leg bent awkwardly in a fight for a rebound.
That's about the only time it seems VanVleet and the Shockers have been slowed all season.The point guard's sixth-ranked team will improve to 17-0 on Saturday night if it hands Missouri State its first home loss.Wichita State (16-0, 3-0 Missouri Valley) extended the longest win streak and best start in school history with a 66-47 home victory over Illinois State on Wednesday.The Shockers had one of their worst moments of the season when the incident with VanVleet happened in the second half. He fell to the floor and had to be checked by doctors before eventually returning to complete the game.VanVleet finished with six points, 10 assists and did not have a turnover for the fourth straight game. He averaged 19.5 points in the first two MVC games."It was a scary kind of thing," VanVleet said. "I don't even remember what happened. I had the ball, and I think he went for it, too, and my knee pushed inward."VanVleet is a big reason why Wichita State ranks sixth nationally with 9.4 turnovers per game. Missouri State is second in the conference in that category, averaging 10.9.The Bears (12-3, 2-1), however, are third-worst in the MVC with 12.3 assists per game. They put together one of their better efforts in that department with 16 in Wednesday's 68-65 win at Bradley.Jarmar Gulley scored a career-best 26 points, Marcus Marshall matched a season high with 20 and point guard Dorrian Williams had six assists and one turnover."We have not had a lot of assists all year but tonight I thought we just were better, Dorrian with six to one," coach Paul Lusk said. "It was Marcus' best game of the year."The Bears bounced back from Sunday's 89-57 loss at Loyola of Chicago. Lusk challenged his team to play harder after that one."Today it just was effort," Marshall said. "That's what it was in the Loyola game, we came out lackadaisical, no effort. So we wanted to come out in this game against Bradley and give effort."The Bears will likely need to put forth an even greater effort to snap a five-game slide in this series. They lost three meetings last season by an average of 16.3 points even though Marshall averaged 17.0.Missouri State seeks to improve to 9-0 at home, but it won't be easy against a Wichita State team that leads the MVC in scoring defense (60.9 points per game), defensive field-goal percentage (40.0) and rebound margin (plus-7.8).Those attributes were on display Wednesday as the Shockers held a 44-37 edge on the glass and limited the Redbirds to 32.7 percent shooting.Wichita State is the highest ranked team ever to visit Missouri State, and the Shockers know they are a big target."I'm not going to lie to you," VanVleet said. "We like the hype and attention. You're not going to run from it, you can't hide from it being undefeated, especially from a non-BCS school."
Wichita State has as many turnovers as field goals in the first half at Missouri State (8 each). The Shockers have averaged just 9.3 turnovers a game this season.
Conversely, Missouri State hit eight 3-pointers in the first half (8-14, 57.1%). The Bears averaged 7.3 made threes per game entering tonight's contest.