Missouri State (7-0) travels to Indiana State (6-1) on Wednesday, and the Bears are looking to surpass a school record for its best Division I league start. Missouri State began Mid-Continent Conference play with a 7-0 mark during the 1988-89 season. MSU had never been better than 4-0 since becoming an MVC member.
Sycamores Aiming High
Indiana State is looking to move to 7-1 in MVC play for the first time since the 1999-00 campaign, which saw the Sycamores earn their first regular-season MVC Championship since the Dream Season of 1978-79 with Larry Bird. ISU started that season with a 9-1 league mark. Notably, Indiana State has won 12-straight games at home, the second-longest active streak in the MVC (Missouri State has won 18-straight at JQH.)
The Indiana State-Missouri State game Wednesday features teams who have a combined league record of 13-1. The last time two teams played this late in a conference season with records that good was three years ago (to the date). On Jan. 19, 2008, Drake (then 6-0 in conference play) and Illinois State (also 6-0 in the MVC) played. It marked the first time the league has had two 6-0 teams play one another. Drake, after trailing by 12 in the second half, rallied to win, 79-73.
State Farm Missouri Valley Player of the Week
Kyle Weems, Missouri State, Jr., 6-6, Fwd., Topeka (Kan.) Highland Park HS
Weems dumped in a game-high 27 points and was 12-for-14 (.857) from the field, including 2-for-2 from three-point range, in Sunday’s win at Bradley. Weems helped the Bears to a 2-0 week as MSU extended its best-ever MVC start to 7-0. He scored 40 points in two ball games on the week (20.0 ppg) to go with 13 rebounds (6.5), 4 assists, 3 blocks and 4 steals. He was also 4-for-4 at the free throw line and made 4 three-pointers. It marks the second-straight weekly MVC award for Weems and his third this season. He's the first league player to win back-to-back Player of the Week honors in the same season since Darren Brooks of SIU did it on Feb. 2 and Feb. 9 in 2004.
Newcomer of the Week
Steve McWhorter, Indiana State, Fr., 6-2, Gd., Racine (Wis.) Saint Catherines HS
McWhorter averaged 7.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists (against zero turnovers) and 1.5 steals against Bradley and Creighton -- both wins. McWhorter was 5-of-7 from the field (71.4 percent), including a perfect 3-of-3 from 3-point range over the two-game stretch. McWhorter tallied 11 points against Creighton, going 4-of-5 from the field and 2-of-2 from behind the 3-point line. He added three assists and three steals versus the Jays. On the road against Bradley, McWhorter added four points and five rebounds, hitting his only 3-pointer in 23 minutes of action.
Tied at the Turn?
It's possible the league could have two teams with 8-1 league records at the mid-way point of the conference schedule (Sunday, Jan. 23). As many as two of these three could achieve an 8-1 start or better: Missouri State (7-0), Indiana State (6-1) or Wichita State (6-1). The last time two teams were 8-1 or better at the turn was 2003 (Creighton and Southern Illinois were both 8-1, and both reached the NCAA tourney that season.)
Half Way Home - Formula for Post-Season Play
By week's end, every team in the league will have reached the midway point of the MVC schedule. Since the 1991-92 season, all 28 MVC teams in the lead (or co-lead) at the break have reached post-season play. The last Valley mid-season leader to not reach the post-season was Tulsa, in 1992. Since then, mid-year leaders Bradley (1994 & 1999), Illinois State (1996), Wichita State (2005) and Creighton (2006) played in the NIT, while the other 23 mid-way leaders reached the NCAAs.
On the Air, 3 This Week
On Wednesday, Jan. 19, Valley TV cameras will showcase Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kan., for the 7 p.m. CT telecast. Mitch Holthus and Rich Zvosec will call the action. It will air on DirecTV Channel 671, Dish Network Channel 418 and AT&T U-verse Channel 748. Saturday's Creighton-Missouri State game is featured on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. CT with Dave O'Brien and Dan Dakich calling the action. Sunday's Southern Illinois-Illinois State game is at 7 p.m. CT and Dan McLaughlin and Mac McCausland are the on-air talent.
After winning just six of 29 road games in non-conference play, the league has combined to go 16-19 on the road in MVC play (through Sunday, Jan. 16). The three biggest reasons for the turnaround: Creighton, Missouri State and Wichita State. The Bears and Shockers are both a perfect 4-0 in conference road games, while Creighton is 3-1. The three teams went a combined 0-6 in road games during non-conference play.
More Road Stuff
Missouri State is one of just two Valley road teams to win games at the McLeod Center (Cedar Falls), Qwest Center (Omaha) and Charles Koch Arena (Wichita) in the same season, joining the 2007-08 Drake Bulldogs. McLeod Center is the newest of the three venues (opened in November 2006).
The Last To Be Perfect?
The last league team to go perfect on the road in conference play was Bradley's 16-0 team in 1985-86. The Braves went 8-0 at home and 8-0 on the road in conference play that year. A trio of teams have won eight road league games since then, including Illinois State (1997-98), Southern Illinois (2003-04) and UNI (2008-09). ISU was victimized at Missouri State; Southern Illinois lost the season finale in 2003-04 at UNI preventing the Salukis from an 18-0 campaign; and two seasons ago, UNI tripped for the only time on the road at Wichita State.
Bradley's Andrew Warren leads the league in scoring at 18.9 points per game and is challenging to become the first league player to average better than 20 points a game since Illinois State's Tarise Bryson led the league with a 22.8 figure during the 2000-01 season.
Warren in Rare Air
Bradley’s Andrew Warren leads the MVC in free throws made and in three-pointers made. Only two players in league history have led the league in both categories at the end of a season:
Finally, a Win in Normal
Last week, Evansville snapped an eight-game losing skid in its series against Illinois State, giving Marty Simmons his first-ever win against the Redbirds last night. Simmons has now posted wins against every MVC member. Before Saturday, UE last won in Normal in 2004.
Home Win Streaks
Missouri State has the longest current homecourt winning streak in the MVC (18 games), while Indiana State is next-best at 12 in a row. A league team has won 20+ home games 27 times. Notably, some members have longer homecourt win streaks, but they were done while they were not members in the MVC – those streaks are not included.
Rare, and Never Before
The Sunday loss for Bradley dropped the Braves to 0-7, giving BU its first ever 0-7 start to a league season in its 59 years as an MVC member. The Braves had never been worse than 0-5 in the MVC in their history. And, for the first time since 2002-03, Illinois State has started the MVC season at 0-7. During 2002-03, ISU opened league play with a school-record, eight-straight losses.
Two Shooting for 1,000
Southern Illinois' Carlton Fay enters this week 15 points shy of 1,000 for his career. And Toure Murry of Wichita State needs 23 points to reach 1,000 career points. Eight other active players in the MVC have scored 1,000 or more points.
Only one of the league's top seven scorers is a senior -- Bradley's Andrew Warren leads the league with 18.8 points per game. Meanwhile, two freshmen are among the Top 7 (Drake's Rayvonte Rice and Creighton's Doug McDermott). Two freshmen have not finished the season among the league's Top 10 since 1995-96 (Rodney Buford of Creighton & Marcus Wilson of Evansville). Notably, the league's top five rebounders are non-seniors, led by SIU's Mamadou Seck.
50 or Better in the RPI
Since 1992, 39 MVC teams have entered Selection Sunday with an RPI better than 50. All of them reached the post-season (27 NCAA bids and 12 NIT bids). Notably, though, of the 12 top-50 teams not to receive an NCAA bid, 10 of those happened in the past six seasons, including WSU (43) last year.
Year -- Team (RPI on Selection Sunday)
1997 -- Missouri State (42)
2000 -- Missouri State (34)
2005 -- Wichita State (45)
2006 -- Missouri State (21), Creighton (39)
2007 -- Missouri State (36), Bradley (37)
2008 -- Illinois State (33), Creighton (46)
2009 -- Creighton (40), Illinois State (47)
2010 -- Wichita State (43)
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