Shockers seek perfection in finale against Bears

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Updated: 3/01 10:12 am

Wichita, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The second-ranked Wichita State Shockers will finish off their historic regular season on Saturday when they welcome the Missouri State Bears to Koch Arena for a Missouri Valley Conference clash.

On Tuesday, Wichita State rolled over Bradley, 69-49, to improve to 30-0 this season. The Shockers are the first team in Division I history to post a record of 30-0 in the regular season. If they win here, they would also set a program record for wins in a season, braking the mark of 30 set by last year's team that went all the way to the Final Four.

Although they have not had the unprecedented success of Wichita State, the Bears are still a team that has enjoyed a strong season. Missouri State is 19-10 overall, although it has had trouble with consistency in league play (9-8). This is also the regular-season finale for Missouri State.

Wichita State is a perfect 17-0 in league play, with only three of those wins coming by single digits. One of those contests came against the Bears, who narrowly lost to the Shockers, 72-69, in overtime back on Jan. 11. Wichita State has won six straight against Missouri State and leads the all-time series, 33-30.

Missouri State was also in action on Tuesday, earning a 72-56 win against Loyola-Chicago for its second straight victory. The Bears connected on an even 50 percent of their shots from the floor and assisted on 17 of their 28 field goals. Christian Kirk went 7-of-8 from the floor and scored a team-high 16 points in 20 minutes off the bench.

There has not been an overabundance of offensive firepower for Missouri State this season. The Bears are scoring 71 ppg, while shooting 44.3 percent from the floor. They have managed to keep their opponents below 70 ppg and 45 percent shooting as well. Jarmar Gulley (14.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg) is normally the player that does much of the heavy lifting on offense. Although he struggled with his shot (4-of-11), he still finished with 10 points to go with 10 rebounds and five assists against Loyola. The Bears have had trouble finding a reliable second option since Marcus Marshall (14.3 ppg) was lost to knee surgery in mid-January.

As they have all season, the Shockers dominated both ends of the floor in knocking off Bradley. Wichita State limited the Braves to 27.1 percent shooting and only eight field goals in each half. The Shockers coupled that with a 48.9 percent shooting effort, which included a 10-of-21 showing from 3- point range.

Gregg Marshall has always been a coach that preaches defense and this year's squad has really bought in. The Shockers are 14th in the country in scoring defense (60.4 ppg) and 25th in opponent field goal percentage (.397). At the other end of the floor, they lead the MVC in scoring (75.6 ppg), while also holding the top spot on the glass (38.6 rpg) among conference teams. Cleanthony Early (15.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is the leading scorer among a group of four averaging in double figures. Ron Baker (13.1 ppg, 3.2 apg), Fred VanVleet (12.3 ppg, 5.2 apg, 2 spg) and Tekele Cotton (10.5 ppg) round out the rotation.

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