–Missouri State nearly upset then-No. 6 Wichita State Saturday night, but the Bears blew a 19-point lead in the 72-69 overtime loss. Now, the Shockers are one of only eight MVC teams to start a season 17-0 and moved up to No. 5 in this week’s AP poll.
–Jarmar Gulley from MSU is this week’s Player of the Week after averaging 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in the Bears’ two games. He cashed in on a career-high 14 rebounds in the loss to Wichita State, as well. Northern Iowa’s Wes Washpun is the Valley’s Newcomer of the Week as the Panthers won both conference games.
–Two MVC players are averaging at least 20 points per game this season: D.J. Balentine and SIU’s Desmar Jackson. The two went head-to-head Saturday, as Balentine put up a career-high 33 points while Jackson tallied 13.
1. Wichita State (4-0, 17-0): The Shockers are bound to lose at some point, and it looked like Missouri State would be the one to do it. A 19-point comeback and a dominant overtime was enough for the league’s top team to come away with a win. It’ll take a full 40 minutes to beat these guys.
2. Indiana State (4-0, 13-3): The Sycamores have a tough week as they face Missouri State and Wichita State, but Greg Lansing’s team is the most likely to steal the Valley crown from the Shockers this season. Fun fact: Indiana State is the only team in the nation with five scorers in double figures who shoot at least 33 percent from beyond the arc.
3. Northern Iowa (3-1, 9-7): UNI is scoring at its highest rate since the 1986-87 season, as the Panthers average 71.8 points per game. Their 50.9 percent clip against Evansville was their highest road shooting percentage in two years.
4. Missouri State (2-2, 12-4): The Bears should get better from their collapse against Wichita State, and Indiana State and Northern Iowa should be on the lookout for a Missouri State team on a mission this week. What we also learned from the loss? Springfield is no easy place to play.
5. Illinois State (2-2, 9-7): The Redbirds’ defense is a force in the conference that held Wichita State to 11 points below its average and Loyola to a season-low field goal shooting percentage. How they’ll handle D.J. Balentine on Wednesday is another story.
6. Drake (1-3, 10-6): Ray Giacoletti’s squad that surprised many in the Valley is on a three-game losing streak. Richard Carter has strung together six 20-plus point games this season as a key to the Bulldogs’ offense.
7. Evansville (1-3, 8-9): The Aces’ win at Southern Illinois Saturday was the first in which the team shot under 50 percent from the field and won. Rebounding is also a telltale stat for UE, but it faces Illinois State’s defense in a midweek road test.
8. Loyola (1-3, 6-10): Milton Doyle is arguably the league’s best freshman, racking up 234 points in 16 games. He looks to be the first freshman to 500 points in a season since Doug McDermott three years ago.
9. Bradley (1-3, 6-11): The road isn’t getting any easier for the Braves. They wrap up a tough five-game stand with a trip to Wichita — Bradley’s currently on a seven-game road losing streak — before hosting Southern Illinois.
10. Southern Illinois (1-3, 5-12): The Salukis escaped the basement for just a game, but lost to Evansville Saturday and are back at the bottom. Marcus Fillyaw is out for a few weeks with a broken hand, but Jalen Pendleton has filled in nicely for the point guard.