With San Diego State's win over Bradley Sunday, the Mountain West Conference and Missouri Valley Conference drew 5-5 for the second straight season in their challenge series.
The home team won all five games, including SIU's 76-58 win over San Jose State Saturday at SIU Arena. The Mountain West Conference last won in 2015, 6-4. The Valley hasn't won the series since 2009, when it took it 5-4. Still, bolstered by a few good wins last week, the Valley is ranked ninth in the Sagarin ratings and KenPom.com, and as high as sixth by Warren Nolan and Collegiate Basketball News. Missouri State knocked off North Dakota State on the road, South Dakota State and Colorado State as part of a six-game winning streak and Northern Iowa beat UNLV in overtime.
The Valley's current winning percentage (72.2 percent) is its best in non-conference play in 55 seasons.
Here are this week's players of the week and the MVC Power Rankings:
Player of the week: Bennett Koch, F, Northern Iowa — Koch scored a career-high 30 points to help the Panthers knock off the previously unbeaten Runnin' Rebels 77-68. Koch made 10 of 19 from the field and 10 of 13 at the free-throw line.
Newcomer of the week: Kavion Pippen, C, Southern Illinois — Pippen won his second newcomer of the week honor this season after sinking 9 of 10 shots in the Salukis' win over San Jose State. For the week, Pippen averaged 17.5 points. seven rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game in wins over SIU-Edwardsville and the Spartans.
MVC POWER RANKINGS
1. Northern Iowa Panthers (6-2)
Previous rank: 1
Last week: Beat UNLV 77-68 in overtime. This week: Hosts Texas-Arlington Thursday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Cedar Falls, Iowa, hosts Dubuque Sunday, 4 p.m. (ESPN3), Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Notes: Guard Wyatt Lohaus, a possible starter who hasn't played this season because of a toe injury, practiced without limitations Friday and Saturday, according to the Waterloo (Iowa) Courier, and could play Thursday against Texas-Arlington. Panthers coach Ben Jacobson said Lohaus would likely come off the bench. ... Northern Iowa's scoring defense (58.5 points allowed per game) is fifth in the country.
2. Missouri State Bears (7-2)
Previous rank: 3
Last week: Beat Colorado State 77-67, beat South Dakota State 73-53, beat North Dakota State 71-58. This week: Hosts Hampton Friday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Springfield, Mo., at Oral Roberts Sunday, 3 p.m., Tulsa, Okla.
Notes: The Bears enter the week on a six-game winning streak. ... Opponents are shooting just 36.8 percent from the field against MSU, and 29.8 percent from the 3-point line. Only two Bear opponents have shot 40 percent or better this season. ... Forward Alize Johnson, the MVC preseason player of the year, has had back-to-back 20-10 double-doubles.
3. Loyola Ramblers (8-1)
Previous rank: 2
Last week: Lost at Boise State 87-53, beat Illinois-Chicago 85-61. This week: At No. 6 Florida Wednesday, 7 p.m. (SEC Network), Gainesville, Fla., hosts Norfolk State Saturday, 3 p.m. (ESPN3), Chicago
Notes: Loyola goes for its first win over a top-25 team since 2009 when it plays at Florida Wednesday. The Ramblers haven't beaten a top-25 team since knocking off 15th-ranked Butler Feb. 15, 2009. They haven't beaten a top-10 foe since defeating ninth-ranked Illinois Dec. 3, 1986. ... Forward Aundre Jackson is 31 of 44 from the field his last four games (70.4 percent), including 8 of 11 from the 3-point line (72.7 percent).
4. Valparaiso Crusaders (8-0)
Previous rank: 4
Last week: Beat Utah State 72-65. This week: At No. 21 Purdue Thursday, 5:30 p.m. (FS1), West Lafayette, Ind., at Ball State Saturday, 1 p.m. (ESPN3), Muncie, Ind.
Notes: After facing zero Power Five conference teams in its first eight games, Valparaiso will play at Purdue and at Northwestern before Dec. 15. ... The Crusaders are outrebounding their opponents by an average of 10.8 per game (42.8-32) and limiting them to 34.3 percent from the field. ... Ten players have competed in either seven or all eight games, and two others, guard Joe Burton and center Jaume Sorolla, have started every game they've played (six). Burton and Sorolla were suspended for the first two games of the year for violating team rules.
5. Illinois State Redbirds (4-4)
Previous rank: 5
Last week: Lost at Nevada 98-68, beat Tulsa 65-58. This week: At BYU Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. (BYU Sports Network), Provo, Utah, hosts Murray State Saturday, 3 p.m. (ESPN3), Normal
Notes: Freshman guard Elijah Clarence, who missed the first five games with a stress fracture, played in the loss to Charleston Southern but will miss the game at BYU because of blisters on his foot, according to the Bloomington Pantagraph. ... The Redbirds' seven-point home win over Tulsa gave them a season sweep of the Golden Hurricane. It was the first season sweep of Tulsa since 1996, when both teams were in the MVC. ... Forward Phil Fayne, a preseason all-conference second team pick, is averaging 16.6 points and 6.9 rebounds a game. Fayne is shooting 56.8 percent from the field and leads the team with 14 steals.
6. SIU Salukis (4-2)
Previous rank: 6
Last week: Beat SIU-Edwardsville 86-59, beat San Jose State 76-58. This week: At Saint Louis Wednesday, 7 p.m. (Fox Sports Midwest), St. Louis, host Southeast Missouri State Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Carbondale.
Notes: Starting point guard Marcus Bartley, who has missed the first six games with a broken bone in his right (shooting) wrist, is expected to play at Saint Louis Wednesday night. Bartley transferred from Saint Louis in 2016 after coach Jim Crews was dismissed, and Travis Ford took over. ... Guard Sean Lloyd posted back-to-back career highs with 19 points against Murray State and SIUE. Lloyd, the team's top defensive stopper, is third on the team in scoring (11.2 ppg.), third in rebounding (4.2 per game) and second in assists (15) and steals (nine).
7. Bradley Braves (7-2)
Previous rank: 7
Last week: Beat Eastern Illinois 67-56, lost at San Diego State 75-52. This week: Hosts Arkansas-Little Rock Dec. 13, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Peoria.
Notes: Bradley's five straight wins between Nov. 18-Dec. 1 was its longest winning streak since 2008-09. ... The Braves' reserves average 27.1 points per game. Their bench has outscored the starters four times this season, with the team's leading scorer coming off the bench four times. ... Junior guard Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye had his first double-double against Eastern Illinois with 13 points and 10 boards.
8. Evansville Purple Aces (6-2)
Previous rank: 9
Last week: Lost at New Mexico 78-59, beat Oakland City 98-56. This week: At Bowling Green Tuesday, 6 p.m., Bowling Green, Ohio, hosts Canisius Saturday, 1 p.m. (ESPN3), Evansville, Ind.
Notes: Guard Ryan Taylor, the league's second-leading scorer at 21.3 points per game, will miss up to six weeks with a bone fracture in his left foot, according to the Evansville Courier & Press. Taylor hurt his foot against Fresno State but played in the loss to Louisiana Tech before the team discovered the injury. ... The Purple Aces play five more games, including a road game at Duke Dec. 20, before opening conference play against Illinois State Dec. 23. ... Entering the week, Evansville's 47.1 percent from the 3-point line ranks third in the country.
9. Drake Bulldogs (4-3)
Previous rank: 8
Last Lost at Omaha 75-73, lost at Wyoming 96-89 in double overtime. This week: At South Dakota Wednesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Vermillion, S.D., hosts Omaha Saturday, 5 p.m. (ESPN3), Des Moines.
Notes: Drake's three losses are by a combined 14 points. The Bulldogs lost by two at Omaha and in double overtime at Wyoming. ... Despite having the seventh-shortest team in the country, according to KenPom.com, Drake has outboarded its opponents by an average of 4.3 per game this season. ... Junior forward Nick McGlynn had a career-high 20 points at Wyoming, his fourth career-high this season. McGlynn also became the fourth Bulldog to score 20 or more in a game, joining guards Reed Timmer (four times), Graham Woodward (twice) and De'Antae McMurry (once).
10. Indiana State Sycamores (3-4)
Previous rank: 10
Last week: Beat Air Force 74-64. This week: At North Texas Wednesday, 7 p.m. (Conference USA TV), Denton, Texas, hosts Indianapolis Saturday, 3 p.m. (ESPN3), Terre Haute, Ind.
Notes: Indiana State's win over Air Force was coach Greg Lansing's 123rd, moving him into third place in school history. He needs 11 more to catch Royce Waltman for second place. The school record is 182, by Duane Klueh. ... Guard Brenton Scott moved into 10th place on the school's all-time scoring list with 11 points against Ohio. Scott has 1,398 career points. ... Sophomore guard Jordan Barnes is 23 of 46 from the 3-point line this season (50 percent).