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Wichita State’s Cotton adds offense

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, at 9:45 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, at 10:49 p.m.

Wichita State at Illinois State

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Redbird Arena, Normal, Ill.

Records: WSU 21-5, 10-4 MVC; ISU 16-10, 7-7

Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM

TV: ESPNU, Ch. 244

Wichita State at Illinois State

PWichita St.HtYrPtsReb

Carl Hall6-8Sr.12.37.5
CEhimen Orukpe7-0Sr.3.24.9
GDemetric Williams6-3Sr.8.3x-2.4
orFred VanVleet5-11Fr.3.9x-2.4
GTekele Cotton6-3So.6.23.8
GMalcolm Armstead6-0Sr.9.2x-3.9


Wichita State (21-5, 10-4): Williams is slowed by a bruised hip, suffered in the first half of Wednesday’s win over Drake. He did not play in the second half. “It’s loosening up a lot more,” he said Friday. “Just taking it day by day. I’m trying to get back to running or jogging.” . . F Cleanthony Early led the Shockers with 16 points in a January win over Illinois State. Hall did not play in that game due to injury. The Shockers held the Redbirds to 6-of-27 shooting from three-point range. WSU made 8 of 18, with F Nick Wiggins coming off the bench to make 3 of 3 and score 10 points. . .WSU won its last two trips to Redbird Arena, both by double figures. . .WSU is 3-3 in MVC road games after going 8-1 each of the past two seasons.

PIllinois StateHtYrPtsReb
F John Wilkins6-9Sr.6.53.7
FJackie Carmichael6-8Sr.18.49.3
GTyler Brown6-4Sr.16.64.0
GBryant Allen6-3Jr.9.2x-2.8
G Johnny Hill6-3So.7.7x-3.3

Illinois State (16-10, 7-7): Carmichael, from Manhattan High, scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Wednesday’s 79-59 win over Bradley. He has 12 double-doubles this season, eight in MVC play. He is shooting 54.5 percent from the field. . . The Redbirds rank second in the MVC in scoring (76.1 points) and shooting (46.5 percent).

RPIs as of Saturday: WSU 38, ISU 114

Defenses sent Wichita State guard Tekele Cotton a message in late January: Get in the gym and practice shooting.

The biggest insult defenses can throw at a player is to ignore him. The scouting report on Cotton told defenders to invite him to shoot and it worked for several games. Cotton’s performance in recent games should trigger an update.

“People have been playing off of me, and I’m considered to not be a shooter,” Cotton said. “My personality, I want to prove that I can do it. I’m just spending time in the gym, as much as I can.”

WSU (21-5, 10-4 Missouri Valley Conference) will need everybody contributing on its two-game road trip, starting Sunday at Illinois State (16-10, 7-7). On Tuesday, WSU plays at third-plpace Indiana State. By Tuesday night, the Shockers could be firmly in control of the MVC race or in third. Its NCAA Tournament resume could grow stronger — and away from the dreaded 8-9 seed profile — or continue its slide.

After wins against two of the Valley’s weakest defensive teams, Wichita State’s offense recovered some of its confidence. Cotton’s mood should be surging after he made 3 of 4 shots, 2 of 3 three-pointers, in Wednesday’s 71-56 win over Drake. He is 10 of 14 in his past three games and 6 of 9 from three-point range. Cotton’s defense keeps him on the floor. He can play more minutes when his shooting helps open up the lane and stretch defenses, helping the Shockers get the ball to their big men.

“He’s worked on his game,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “He was embarrassed by the fact nobody was guarding him. That’s kind of humbling, when you’re a 6-foot-2 guard and people are backing off you.”

Assistant coaches Chris Jans and K.T. Turner worked with Cotton, reminding him to shoot while balanced and follow through.

“Just basic fundamentals, confidence and repetition,” Cotton said.

Illinois State should be full of confidence after turning around its season. The Redbirds, expected to be contend for the MVC title, started conference play 0-6. Since then, they are 7-1. On their current four-game win streak, Illinois State scored 70 or more points in each and won at 75-72 at then-No. 16 Creighton. That miserable start showed the Redbirds the importance of playing defense and the importance of guard Tyler Brown.

In their past seven wins, Illinois State is holding opponents to 38.8 percent shooting. Drake and Creighton, both playing at home, are the only teams to pass 62 points in that span.

“It starts with defense,” Redbirds coach Dan Muller said earlier this month. “What’s helped us guard better? We’ve played harder. It’s not really rocket science.”

WSU defeated Illinois State 74-62 on Jan. 16, part of that 0-6 start. Brown, in his first game after a one-game suspension, scored 14 points in 26 minutes off the bench. He scored 20 or more five times since, including a streak of three in a row. Brown, last week’s MVC player of the week, is averaging 24.6 points and shooting 46 percent (23 of 50) from the field and 40 percent (8 of 20) from three-point range in his past three games.

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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