—Missouri Valley Conference members have a combined 46-22 non-conference record, with 19 of those losses coming to teams with records above .500 and eight to top 25 squads. Also, the league’s 10-7 road record ranks fourth among 32 Division I conferences so far.
— Wichita State senior Carl Harl averaged 18.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in wins over Tulsa and Air Force, earning him MVC player of the week honors. Southern Illinois junior Desmar Jackson, a Wyoming transfer, is the league’s newcomer of the week after scoring a career-high 25 points and hitting a game-winning 3-pointer for the Salukis in their victory over Fresno State.
—MVC teams are 3-4 against their counterparts in this season’s Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge. Remaining games are Tuesday, when Illinois State hosts Wyoming, and Dec. 19 as Northern Iowa plays at UNLV. The leagues went 4-4 against one another last season.
1. Wichita State (8-0): The Shockers, who entered the Associated Press poll Monday at No. 24, are one of 20 Division I teams still undefeated. A 10-0 start would mark the program’s best ever. Wichita State cracked the 80-point mark for the first time this season in last Wednesday’s win over Tulsa, and Gregg Marshall-coached teams are 84-4 when reaching that total.
2. Creighton (7-1): Despite a loss to Boise State, the Bluejays remain high in the polls — at 16th by the AP and 13th from coaches. Creighton’s 61.2 percent field goal shooting is best in the nation, and junior Doug McDermott continues to average better than 20 points per game leading into a game Thursday against in-state rival Nebraska.
3. Southern Illinois (4-1): The surprise Salukis, despite not starting a player taller than 6-foot-5, split their games last week, falling to Jim Crews-coached Saint Louis before posting a 57-54 win over Fresno State. Senior guard Jeff Early has more than doubled his scoring average this season (18.2 points per game) from last season (8.6). Also on Monday, coach Barry Hinson announced that sophomore Antonio Bryer (5 points/2 rebounds) left the team for personal reasons.
4. Illinois State (5-2): Like Northern Iowa, the Redbirds lost a tight contest to Louisville. They preceded it with another heart breaker, 72-69, against Northwestern in overtime. The most difficult part of the non-conference schedule won’t be behind first-year coach Dan Muller until Tuesday as Illinois State faces undefeated Wyoming, a team off a win over then-ranked Colorado.
T4. Bradley (5-2): The over-achieving Braves out-scored Central Michigan 66-24 in the paint during their win last Wednesday, and they played Michigan close on Saturday, falling 74-66 to the third-ranked Wolverines at home. Bradley is also averaging 12 turnovers a game, improving on an assist-to-turnover ratio that ranked 289th last season.
6. Indiana State (4-2): The Sycamores recovered from a 19-point deficit to force overtime in its loss to 23rd-ranked New Mexico, but the defeat snapped a four-game winning streak. Indiana State plays road games at Morehead State and IUPUI before heading off to the Diamond Head Classic from Dec. 22-24.
7. Northern Iowa (4-3): After taking three losses in a loaded Battle 4 Atlantis field, the Panthers returned to the win column with a double-digit victory Saturday over Milwaukee. Senior Jake Koch, at 6-foot-9 and and 255 pounds, averages 1.6 blocks per game but is also hitting 87.9 percent of his free throws.
T7. Evansville (4-3): The Aces had a four-game winning streak snapped in their loss to Colorado State, and they face another opponent in Murray State on Saturday that’s receiving votes in national polls. Freshman D.J. Balentine has emerged to lead UE in scoring with 11.3 points per game, a figure elevated by his 26-point performance at Colorado State.
9. Drake (3-3): The Bulldogs knocked off Nevada last Friday by double digits, moving their record back to .500 before Wednesday’s home game against Saint Mary’s. Drake excels from beyond the arc, with its 44.1 percent 3-point shooting ranking fifth in the nation. Senior Jordan Clarke averages a double-double, and his 10.3 rebounds per game is tied for 22nd nationally.
10. Missouri State (2-5): The Bears have lost three games in a row – to South Carolina, SMU and Oral Roberts — heading into Wednesday’s game at Tulsa. That’s despite Missouri State averaging 65 points a game and just 11.3 turnovers.