Wichita St.-N. Iowa Preview


So much that went right for Wichita State during its lengthy home winning streak went wrong in its last game.

The 15th-ranked Shockers can't afford to hang their heads for long as they hit the road Saturday to take on Northern Iowa, which has won three straight at home by an average of 24.7 points.

Once in control atop the Missouri Valley Conference, Wichita State (19-3, 8-2) now finds itself in a first-place tie with No. 21 Creighton and just one game ahead of Indiana State. The Sycamores snapped the Shockers' 19-game home winning streak - which had been the country's eighth-longest active streak - with a 68-55 victory Tuesday.

"We got whipped," coach Gregg Marshall said. "We couldn't score inside, couldn't guard them inside, they beat us on the boards - there were a lot of things that weren't the norm."

Marshall's team had averaged 72.6 points while shooting 46.4 percent from the field in its previous 12 home games this season before making 27.1 percent Tuesday, including 7 for 31 inside the 3-point arc. It was the program's worst field-goal percentage at home in more than 12 years.

Cleanthony Early led the Shockers with 15 points while senior Demetric Williams added 14, but the two combined to shoot 7 of 24 from the field.

Early, averaging a team-high 15.2 points, was far more efficient in the first meeting of the season with Northern Iowa as he scored 16 on 6-of-11 shooting in a 66-41 victory Dec. 30.

Wichita State shot 46.0 percent in that game but could have a tougher time in the rematch, considering the Panthers (11-11, 4-6) may try to duplicate Indiana State's successful strategy with a 2-3 zone defense.

"We've got to make some shots," said Marshall, whose club has won five of seven road games.

The Panthers have lost on the road in their last two games but only by a total of four points, including 54-51 in overtime to Evansville on Tuesday. They've won 14 of 16 at home dating back to last season.

Plus, Northern Iowa has been mostly competitive in four games against ranked teams this season even though none were at home. The Panthers have lost to No. 2 Louisville, No. 19 Memphis, No. 21 UNLV and No. 12 Creighton by an average of 8.8 points.

Leading scorer Anthony James will try to bounce back after tying a season low with five points Tuesday. He also was held to five in the Dec. 30 loss to Wichita State, but he led the Panthers with 16 points in a 71-68 loss in the last meeting in Cedar Falls last January.

Senior Marc Sonnen gives the Panthers a dangerous weapon from the outside, ranking third in the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage at 49.1. He's hit 19 of 27 (70.4 percent) from beyond the arc in his last six games.

Northern Iowa has averaged 55.7 points in its last three games, but has scored 76.0 per game while shooting 50.6 percent in 11 at home.

The Panthers look to continue that production against a Wichita State team that allowed Indiana State to shoot 53.3 percent Tuesday. It was the highest field-goal percentage given up by the Shockers in more than a year.

Wichita State, though, held Northern Iowa to a season-low point total on 32.6 percent shooting in December as the Shockers won their fourth straight in the series.