Weekly Men's Basketball Notebook - Dec. 27
State Farm Missouri Valley Player of the Week
Andrew Warren, Bradley, Sr., 6-6, Gd., Indianapolis (Ind.) Brebeuf Jesuit Prep
Warren averaged 23.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.0 apg and 1.5 spg while leading Bradley to a pair of wins last week and he committed only one turnover in his 74 minutes in the two games. Against Jackson State, Warren scored a game-high 23 points, grabbed four rebounds, dished out two assists and had a steal in 37 minutes. And in Wednesday's win against Detroit, Warren again led all scorers with 24 points while adding six rebounds, two assists and two steals. He shot 56 percent (14-25) from the field, 46.7 percent (7-15) from 3-point range and was 12-for-12 from the free throw line. His back-to-back 3-pointers ignited a 16-0 Bradley run that broke open the Jackson State game and his six free throws in the final 1:15 closed out Wednesday's win against Detroit.
Newcomer of the Week
Jon Ekey, Illinois State, Fr., 6-7, Fwd., Independence (Mo.) Chrisman High
At UNC Wilmington, ISU redshirt freshman Jon Ekey was key in the Redbirds first road win of the season. Ekey poured in a career-best 22 points and added a career-high 12 rebounds, while posting his first-career double-double. It was Ekey's first double-digit scoring output of the season. Entering the game he had made only three treys on the season. At UNCW, Ekey was 4-for-8 from beyond the arc. He also added two blocked shots and two steals, while shooting 8-for-13 from the field in his 37 minutes of action.
Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball combined for a 12-1 week in non-conference play last week, and the MVC went 26-5 since games of Dec. 8. That lifted the league's non-league season record to an impressive 70-41 (.631).
Quick Starts Important
Since 1993-94, only one team (UNI, a 2008-09 co-champion) has won at least a share of the regular-season title without winning its regular-season opener. In fact, 15 of the last 16 regular-season champs (or co-champs) have opened 2-0 or better in conference play, with UNI in 2008-09 serving as the lone exception.
The league has had five different regular-season champs in the past five seasons (Wichita State-2006, Southern Illinois-2007, Drake-2008, UNI/Creighton-2009, UNI-2010).
Following last week's 12-1 record against non-conference foes, the league has just 10 remaining non-conference tilts during the regular season (the February ESPN BracketBuster series). The MVC is 29 games over .500 (70-41), and last had a losing non-conference record during the 2002-03 campaign (49-53). The Valley had a .667 non-league winning percentage from 2003-04 through 2009-10.
Inside the Numbers
Of the league's 41 non-conference losses, 10 have been to ranked teams. Thirty-one of the 41 losses have been away from home. Notably, since 1949 (the first AP top-25 poll), the Valley has lost 10 or more games to top-25 teams in the same season just nine times. Only two of the league's 10 losses to top-25 teams were at Valley sites.
Losing to Ranked Teams
A good percentage of the league's non-conference losses this year have come against top-25 teams. Since the AP poll started in 1949 (62 seasons), league losses to top-25 teams have accounted for 20 percent or more of the MVC's total non-conference losses in a season 14 times, including this year.
Rank and File
MVC schools have combined for a 1-10 mark against top-25 teams. The league was 3-5 against top-25 teams a year ago. Only two of this year's 11 games against top-25 teams have been at home. Evansville's win at No. 23 Butler (Nov. 27) is the league's lone victory.
Streak on the Line
UNI’s 21-game home-court winning is the longest such streak in school history and its the 13th longest for any current MVC member. The streaks below only include current members (not the other 21 departed schools). Some current members have longer homecourt win streaks, but before they were in the MVC – those streaks are also not included.
Longest Homecourt Streaks, Current Members
1. 46, Bradley (1958-61)
2. 33, Southern Illinois (2003-06)
3. 31, Southern Illinois (2001-03)
4. 30, Bradley (1979-81)
5. 28, Creighton (2002-04)
6. 26, Bradley (1993-95); Bradley (1949-51)
8. 25, Bradley (1985-87)
9. 23, Drake (1969-71)
10. 22, WSU (1982-83); INS (78-79); INS (99-01)
13. 21, UNI (current)
14. 20, Creighton (2000-01)
Six active players in the league have 1,000 or more career points, while two are creeping up on 1,000, including Kyle Weems (995) of Missouri State and Kwadzo Ahelegbe (984) of UNI. Every league game on Dec. 29 will have at least one 1,000-point scorer. Weems and Ahelegbe could reach 1,000 in the same game.
MVC Games of Dec. 29 (1,000-point scorers)
Bradley @ Indiana State (WTVP), 6:05 p.m. BU -- Andrew Warren, Sammy Maniscalco
Southern Illinois @ Drake (Mediacom), 7:05 p.m. DU -- Ryan Wedel
Evansville @ Wichita State, 7:05 p.m. WSU -- J.T. Durley
Missouri State @ UNI (MVC TV), 7:05 p.m. MSU -- Adam Leonard
Creighton @ Illinois State (Comcast), 7:05 p.m. CU -- Kenny Lawson Jr.
Against the Best
Through Sunday, Dec. 26, there are eight teams nationally with perfect records. Four of those eight have wins against an MVC school, including Duke (Bradley), Connecticut (Wichita State), San Diego St. (Wichita State) and Syracuse (UNI). Both of Wichita State's losses -- the Shockers enter this week at 9-2 -- have come against unbeatens.
The Missouri Valley Conference is on the verge of a rare accomplishment as eight of the league's 10 teams have .500 or better non-league marks (two teams are just one game below .500.) Since 1978-79, the league has had all of its members go .500 or better in non-league play just twice (2006-07 and 2007-08). Eight or more league teams have gone .500 or better every year since 2002-03. The league has posted 70 or more non-conference wins for seven-straight seasons.
A pair of MVC players are looking to enter the league's Top 20 for consecutive free throws made. Bradley's Andrew Warren has 25 makes in a row, while UNI's Jake Koch has made 27 straight FTs. An MVC player has made 30-straight FT makes or more 19 times in league history.
The RPI Report
The Missouri Valley is 13 of 32 conferences in today's (Dec. 26) Collegiate Basketball News RPI Report. As a league, the MVC is No. 23 in schedule strength. The worst season-ending schedule strength ranking for the MVC is 19 (1991-92, the first year of the report). Three teams are in the Top 100: UNI (45), Wichita State (48) and Missouri State (86).
Inside the Numbers
The league has been ranked No. 9 in schedule strength in each of the past two seasons but has not finished outside of the Top 10 conferences in RPI since 2004, when the MVC was No. 11. Notably, the 2004 campaign capped a five-year run in which the league failed to finish among the Top 10 leagues in RPI. Yet in all five of those sub-Top 10 seasons, the league had two teams in the NCAA Tournament.
The league was 54-10 at home in non-conference play after going 61-11 against non-MVC teams at home last year. The league has recorded a combined 404-69 record in non-league games at home since the 2004-05 season.