Wichita Stateis proving that its trip to the Final Four last March was no fluke as it putsits unbeaten record on the line when it visits Saint.Louis on Sunday. TheNo. 12 Shockers have picked up where they left off last season when they went30-9 before losing to eventual national champion Louisville in the Final Four.Head coach Gregg Marshall has his team again hustling on both ends of the court andon the boards.
The Shockersknocked off Brigham Young, 75-62, in the championship game of the CBE Hall ofFame Classic on Tuesday night in Kansas City, where tourney MVP Ron Baker scoreda career-high 23 points, including 11-of-11 from the free-throw line, to gowith a team-high seven rebounds. Baker, a sophomore who has nearly doubled hisscoring average from last season at 15.3 points, has hit 24-of-28 free throwsand is shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point territory. Saint Louis has also gottenoff to a strong start, with its only loss coming to No.11 Wisconsin, 63-57, onTuesday.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT WICHITA STATE (7-0): The Shockers limited the Cougars to 31percent shooting from the floor and have held opponents to 38.6 percent shootingfor the season. Cleanthony Early has averaged 14.4 points and 7.1 rebounds inhis second season. Fred VanVleet, has stepped up in the starting backcourt toaverage 13 points and a team-leading 5.4 assists. The Shockers have outreboundedtheir opposition by an average of 6.7 boards per game and lead the Missouri ValleyConference in scoring margin at plus-20.7 points — 14th best in the nation.
ABOUT SAINT LOUIS (6-1): The Billikens are coming off a 62-52 winover Old Dominion in the consolation game of the Cancun Challenge on Wednesdayas Dwayne Evans led the way with 21 points. Evans is averaging a team-high14.4 points with Mike McCall Jr. and Jordair Jett adding 11 and 10.1 points,respectively. Grandy Glaze leads Saint Louis on the boards, averaging 7.1rebounds, while John Manning has a team-high nine blocked shots despiteaveraging only 13.2 minutes of duty.
1. WichitaState is tied with Harvard for eighth in the nation in turnover margin at 7.0.
2. TheBillikens lead the Atlantic 10 in scoring defense, allowing an average of 58points a game, tied with Harvard for 17th in the nation.
3. St. Louiscoach Jim Crews, who replaced the late Rick Majerus last season on an interimbasis, led the Billikens to a school-record 28 wins and a second straight NCAATournament en route to being named national coach of the year by The Sporting News and the NationalAssociation of Basketball Coaches.
PREDICTION: Wichita State 85, Saint Louis 81