P Wichita State Ht Yr Pts Reb
F Cleanthony Early 6-8 Jr. 13.9 6.6
C Carl Hall 6-8 Sr. 14.0 8.8
G Evan Wessel 6-5 So. 7.0 2.0
G Ron Baker 6-3 Fr. 9.8 2.8
G Malcolm Armstead 6-0 Sr. 3.8 x-3.7
Wichita State (7-0): C Ehimen Orukpe remains slowed by a sprained right ankle and may not play. Air Force’s style of play would likely limit his minutes, because the Falcons would try to pull him away from the basket and make him guard outside shooters. . . WSU is holding teams to 36.6-percent shooting, best in the Missouri Valley Conference. It also leads the MVC in rebound margin (plus-7.3), which could be key against Air Force. Colorado out-rebounded the Falcons 46-19, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds, in an 89-74 win on Nov. 25 in Boulder.… WSU also leads the MVC in blocks at 5.3 a game.… The Shockers are 2-1 in the MVC-MWC Challenge Series, losing to San Diego State (2010) and defeating TCU (2009) and UNLV (2011). This is the fourth and final season of the series contract, although the conferences are considering a resumption after the 2013-14 season. While the MVC appears to be fully in favor of the relationship, some in the Mountain West may prefer other options. “I think we’ve got to be a league, with all this realignment, trying to get a challenge that’s out west – whether it’s Big 12 or Pac-12, the Big West or something like that,” New Mexico coach Steve Alford told the Albuquerque Journal. “The Missouri Valley is in the Midwest, and there isn’t a whole lot we’re doing as a league in the Midwest. Something out west, I think, would be maybe a little more beneficial.”
P Air Force Ht Yr Pts Reb
F Mike Fitzgerald 6-6 Sr. 6.0 4.0
C Taylor Broekhuis 6-10 Sr. 11.3 4.7
G Todd Fletcher 6-2 Sr. 12.0 x-4.4
G Michael Lyons 6-5 Sr. 20.7 5.3
G Kyle Green 6-2 Sr. 7.0 1.9
Air Force (6-1): Air Force is trying to go 7-1 for the third time in program history, matching the starts for the 2006 and 2007 teams.… Lyons is 18 of 43 (41.9 percent) from three-point range and posted a career-high 33 points in a win over The Citadel. He leads the Mountain West in scoring.… Fletcher is shooting 60.7 percent from behind the arc (17 of 28) and scored a career-high 20 points in Wednesday’s 76-47 win over Jackson State. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 7.75 (31 assists, four turnovers) ranks second nationally.… Coach Dave Pilipovich is in his first full season. He took over for Jeff Reynolds in February after Air Force fired Reynolds and went 2-6. Pilipovich spent five seasons as an assistant at the school.… The Falcons return four starters from last season’s team and were picked ninth in the nine-team Mountain West preseason poll, one spot behind Boise State.
- Ehimen Orukpe spent shootaround working with trainer Todd Fagan. I don’t expect him to play.
- The Broncos play at home today, meaning Air Force’s already small crowds will take the NFL hit.
- Wyoming’s win over No. 19 Colorado may get WSU into the top 25 on Monday. CU also needed double-overtime to get past Texas Southern last week. No team ranked 20-25 lost. No. 26 Alabama lost to No, 17 Cincinnati. Should the Shockers win today, there might be a spot open for an 8-0 team at No. 25.
- Tough day for the MVC on Saturday. Indiana State lost at home in overtime to No. 25 New Mexico. Illinois State lost 69-66 – after leading by 13 early – at No. 5 Louisville. No. 3 Michigan won at Bradley 74-66. ORU routed Missouri State at JQH Arena 72-52. The MVC is 45-22 (67 percent winning), which is good. However, a win or two Saturday would have been really helpful. The Valley missed two great opportunities to improve its RPI.
- According to STATS, Inc., WSU leads the nation in road winning percentage since the 2010-11 season. WSU is 20-3 in the last two-plus seasons (87 percent), ahead of No. 2 Murray State (23-4, 85.2), No. 3 Kansas (17-3, 85) and No. 4 Syracuse (17-4, 81).