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Wichita State closes in on Valley title Hot Shockers keep rolling through Valley

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012, at 9:05 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, at 1:44 p.m.

Wichita State beats Missouri State 73-58 at Koch Wednesday

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Shocker report

Wednesday’s box

Missouri State (58)

Min

FG-A

FT-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Downing

36

7-14

0-0

2-5

3

2

17

Pickens

18

0-2

0-0

2-6

2

2

0

Weems

33

4-14

0-0

0-3

4

0

10

Kirk

10

1-3

0-0

0-0

0

2

2

Bizoukas

24

1-3

0-0

0-1

4

3

2

Gulley

17

1-5

0-0

1-3

0

2

2

Aromona

7

0-2

0-0

0-1

1

1

0

Patterson

19

6-13

1-2

0-1

0

1

14

Scheer

19

2-4

0-0

1-3

0

0

5

Rhine

17

3-4

0-0

1-1

0

2

6

Totals

200

25-64

1-2

11-28

14

15

58

Percentages: FG .391, FT .500. 3-Point Goals: 7-15, .467 (Downing 3-3, Weems 2-5, Scheer 1-2, Patterson 1-3, Aromona 0-1, Gulley 0-1). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 1 (Pickens). Turnovers: 6 (Bizoukas 3, Downing 2, Gulley). Steals: 4 (Weems 2, Downing, Patterson). Technical Fouls: None.

Wichita State (73)

WICHITA ST.

Min

FG-A

FT-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Ragland

31

4-9

0-0

0-4

5

3

9

Williams

20

3-3

0-0

0-1

1

3

8

Smith

31

3-6

6-7

1-1

0

0

14

Murry

36

1-6

0-0

0-4

8

0

2

Stutz

32

7-8

3-4

1-10

1

1

21

Orukpe

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

1

0

Hall

18

2-4

0-0

0-0

0

0

4

Kyles

19

4-5

2-2

0-5

2

1

12

Cotton

12

1-1

1-2

0-2

0

0

3

Totals

200

25-42

12-15

2-30

17

9

73

Percentages: FG .595, FT .800. 3-Point Goals: 11-19, .579 (Stutz 4-4, Williams 2-2, Kyles 2-3, Smith 2-5, Ragland 1-4, Murry 0-1). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 3 (Orukpe, Hall, Smith). Turnovers: 12 (Ragland 4, Kyles 2, Stutz 2, Williams 2, Murry, Cotton). Steals: 4 (Ragland 2, Murry, Williams). Technical Fouls: None.

Missouri St.

32

26

58

Wichita St.

34

39

73

Att.–10,506. Officials–Paul Janssen, Don Daily, Terry Oglesby.

Big behind the arc

WSU center Garrett Stutz has always owned a smooth shooting form. He entered Wednesday’s game shooting 28.4 percent from three-point range, good enough to be tantalizing, but not good enough for defenses to sweat.

That should be changing on scouting reports. Stutz made all four of his threes and is 6 for 6 in his past two games.

“What a luxury,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said.

Stutz didn’t get hot until the game started.

“I shot the ball terrible in warmups,” he said. “I really hoped no one was paying attention to me. It felt good in the game.”

When Stutz is on, the Shockers can put five players on the court who can make threes.

“It’s perfect,” guard Joe Ragland said. “I was looking for him every time. He really showed how versatile he is.”

Ready for a banner

WSU won at least a share of its seventh MissourI Valley Conference title.

The Shockers likely earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, although it won’t be official until next week.

Should the Shockers tie Creighton, non-conference strength of schedule is the second tie-breaker and that should go to WSU. According to collegerpi.com, WSU’s non-conference strength of schedule ranks No. 26. Creighton is No. 155. Creighton and WSU split the season series, the first tie-breaker.

WSU can make the unnecessary with one more win, or a loss by Creighton. The Shockers play at Illinois State on Wednesday. Creighton’s next MVC game is Tuesday against Evansville.

The Shockers also won MVC titles in 1964, 1965, 1976, 1981, 1983 and 2006.

Worth noting

Wednesday’s sellout was the third of the season, joining games against Creighton and Southern Illinois.… Marvin Clark, a 6-foot-5 junior at Blue Springs (Mo.) High watched Wednesday’s game. He is also considering MSU, according to Rivals.com.… Junior forward James Anacreon did not suit up. A groin injury has kept him out of practice this week.… WSU’s streak of made free throws ended at 23 when Stutz missed with 16:30 to play in the first half. The streak started in the final seconds of the Indiana State game and then WSU made all four against Northern Iowa and 17 of 17 at Creighton. Stutz made one Wednesday before missing.… WSU swept the Bears for the second time in the past three seasons.

— Paul Suellentrop

Eight days ago, Wichita State boasted a 20-4 record and a solid NCAA Tournament resume. Then the Shockers found a way to get better, even while facing a tough stretch in the schedule.

It is mid-February, and the 24th-ranked Shockers are finding ways to reach new peaks on their way to the Missouri Valley Conference title. They handled third-place Missouri State 73-58 on Wednesday at sold-out Koch Arena, clinching at least a share of the Valley championship.

“We’re playing how we all envisioned,” WSU guard Joe Ragland said. “We’ve got big goals, and this is the time you’ve got to work to accomplish those goals.”

WSU (23-4, 14-2 MVC) can clinch the Valley title with one more win and it gets its first chance at Illinois State on Wednesday. MSU (16-12, 9-7) saw a three-game win streak snapped.

The Shockers shifted into a higher gear three games ago and the results are impressive. Far from fading in February, they are improving.

•  WSU made 59.5 percent of its shots against the Bears, the conference leader in scoring defense and shooting defense. That sizzling night comes after making 58.2 percent at then-No. 17 Creighton and 55.9 percent against Northern Iowa.

“They’re built to win championships,” MSU coach Paul Lusk said after watching his team allow an opponent to shoot better than 50 percent for the second time this season. “We couldn’t stop them in transition. We simply couldn’t stop them.”

The Shockers made 11 of 19 three-pointers, making them 31 of 54 (57.4 percent) in the past three games. WSU handed out 17 assists, eight by guard Toure Murry.

“Guys know a good shot from a bad shot,” WSU center Garrett Stutz said. “We’re a veteran team and no one’s taking bad shots.”

•  Stutz spent most of the MVC schedule establishing himself as an unstoppable inside scorer. He made all four of his three-point shots against Missouri State and is 8 of 12 behind the arc in his past six games. That leaves defenses no good way to guard him.

“When he’s out there making threes like that, what are you going to do?” Lusk said.

Stutz scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, his 10th double-double of the season.

•  Forward Ben Smith is WSU’s new defensive stopper. On Saturday, he held Creighton’s Doug McDermott, a national player of the year candidate, to 13 points on 14 shots. Wednesday, he guarded 2011 MVC Player of the Year Kyle Weems and limited him to 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting. Weems missed some opens shots, but Smith, and Carl Hall, made him shoot several under duress and refused to let him get comfortable.

“It starts at practice, just learning how to guard them and then when you’re out there you’ve got to play hard, limit their touches and make it hard for them,” Smith said.

Missouri State stuck with the Shockers in the first half, answering WSU’s attempts to pull away with Caleb Patterson and Anthony Downing scoring. The Shockers led 32-22 before the Bears ended the half on a 10-2 run to trail 34-32.

WSU set the tone for the second half with seven points in the first 1:40 to grab a 41-32 lead and force Lusk to call timeout to regroup and quiet the crowd. The Bears cut the lead to 41-39 before threes by Demetric Williams and David Kyles started the decisive flurry. Ragland stripped Downing from behind to lead to a layup for Kyles and a 49-39 lead. Kyles made another three and scored after a Bears turnover against a press for a 56-42 lead.

“We started to run more and pick up the pace of the game,” Stutz said. “At that point, we got into a nice little rythmn.”

WSU’s defense did its part. It held MSU to 11 baskets in the second half and its changing press looks disrupted the Bears and moved the tempo from slow to fast.

“There were some good moments with our press,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “It really helped getting some deflections and some steals.”

WSU secured its first conference title since 2006 and the fans chanted “MVC, MVC” in the final seconds. The Shockers will hold off on serious celebrating until they win it outright, perhaps as early as Wednesday. Sharing is not in their plans.

“It’s a nice achievement, but it’s not our end goal,” Stutz said.

Check Paul Suellentrop’s Shocker blog at blogs.kansas.com/shockwaves. Reach him at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com

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