St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - The 12th-ranked Wichita State Shockers face one of their toughest tests to date, as they tangle with the Saint Louis Billikens on Sunday afternoon.
Wichita State is a perfect 7-0 on the young season, the team winning each game by double digits. The Shockers, who are playing only their second true road game in this one, are coming off a 75-62 triumph over BYU on a neutral court, and they haven't been in front of their home fans now since taking out Tennessee State back on Nov. 16.
Saint Louis recently beat Old Dominion as part of the Cancun Challenge, bouncing back from its first and only setback of the season, a 63-57 verdict versus Wisconsin in the same event. The Billikens are 3-0 at home this season, and they've won 35 of their last 38 at Chaifetz Arena over the past three seasons.
Saint Louis owns a 41-19 lead in the all-time series with Wichita State, but this is the first meeting between the two since the Shockers claimed a 62-60 home win during the 1974-75 season.
Wichita State is potent offensive team, putting up 80.7 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .469 overall, .326 from 3-point range and .726 from the foul line. Conversely, its opponents are generating just 60.0 ppg, hitting the mark on only 38.6 percent of their total shots, 27.3 percent of their long- range bombs, and a paltry 57.9 percent of their free throws. Factor in favorable margins in both rebounding (+6.7) and turnovers (+6.0) and it isn't hard to see why the team is off to such a fantastic start. Ron Baker leads the way with his 15.3 ppg, and he also paces the club in blocked shots (10) while handing out 3.7 apg. Cleanthony Early (14.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Fred VanVleet (13.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.4 apg) and Tekele Cotton (10.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg) round out the unit's double-digit scorers.
Saint Louis plays defense as well as any team in the country, the Billikens yielding a mere 58 ppg with foes shooting just 39.5 percent from the floor, which includes a 24.2 percent showing from beyond the arc. They also do a nice job of forcing errors by the opposition, as more than 15 turnovers per outing has proven beneficial time and time again. At the other end, SLU is netting 72.9 ppg, doing so by knocking down 44.5 percent of its total shots, but only 31.4 percent of its 3-point tries. Dwayne Evans paces the club with 14.4 ppg, while Mike McCall, Jr. adds 11.0 ppg and Jordair Jett 10.1 ppg. Both Austin McBroom and Rob Loe are close to joining the double-digit scorers club, the two checking in with 9.4 and 9.1 ppg, respectively. Grandy Glaze heads the Bills' rebounding effort with 7.1 caroms per contest.