Thursday’s box score
No. 8 WSU 82, S. Illinois 67
Percentages: FG .600, FT .813. 3-Point Goals: 9-20, .450 (Wiggins 2-2, Early 2-4, VanVleet 2-4, Baker 2-7, Cotton 1-2, Green 0-1). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 4 (Coleby 2, Carter, Early). Turnovers: 6 (Cotton 2, Baker 2, Early, Wiggins). Steals: 6 (VanVleet 2, Wiggins 2, Baker, Early). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .541, FT .714. 3-Point Goals: 7-13, .538 (O’Brien 3-4, Pendleton 2-2, Fillyaw 2-3, Balogun 0-1, Beane 0-1, Jackson 0-2). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 3 (O’Brien 2, Olaniyan). Turnovers: 11 (Jackson 2, Beane 2, O’Brien 2, Pendleton 2, Fillyaw 2, Balogun). Steals: 2 (Beane, Jackson). Technical Fouls: None.
A—4,891. Officials—John Higgins, Paul Janssen, Kipp Kissinger.
Wichita State led by 17 points at halftime and all the Shockers recognized the signficance of that margin. Last season, WSU led 29-12 in the first half at SIU Arena.
Then the 22nd-ranked Shockers went 11 minutes without a basket and committed eight turnovers. They gave up the lead and lost 64-62. The Salukis, losers of six straight before that game, celebrated and coach Barry Hinson pumped his fist at fans and ran into the student section to party on after the upset.
The Shockers relived it all this week in film study. Even Hinson’s celebration made the cut.
“That’s all I thought about the whole entire time, what happened after the game,” WSU’s Cleanthony Early said. “That’s just motivation.”
On Thursday, the Shockers removed any chance for drama.
“This group plays a little smarter than that group at times,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “If you don’t turn the ball over and you get a good shot each time, it’s hard to let a team go on an 18-0 run. We turned the ball over last year. Not only did we not score for a long time, we didn’t even get shots.”
Long trip to Carbondale
Chadrack Lufile’s high school coaches from Assumption Catholic in Burlington, Ontario drove to SIU to watch their former pupil. The 12-hour drive took 16 because of snow storms along the way through Canada, Detroit and Indianapolis.
The trip was worth it for them to see Lufile play in college for the first time. The four men sat on the first row of the baseline benches near the Shocker bench and took pictures of Lufile during warmups and the game.
“His growth has been tremendous,” said Anthony Cordeiro, Assumption’s coach. “Final Four. 13-0. You can’t ask for better.”
Assistant coaches Paul Di Ianni, Tony Piccoli and Ron Esteban joined the trip. They’ve enjoyed watching Lufile’s improvement from afar in his time at Coffeyville Community College and WSU. Lufile didn’t play organized basketball until age 16.
“I’m a little bit surprised,” Cordeiro said. “But we expect more. We’re not done yet.”
WSU’s Cleanthony Early is averaging 22.3 points his past four games, shooting 57.1 percent from the field (28 of 49) and 92.6 (25 of 27) from the line.… WSU’s Nick Wiggins made two threes in the first half, his first game with more than one this season and scored a season-high 13 points. He is 4 of 6 from three in his past three games after going 1 for 9 in five previous games.… SIU freshman Sean O’Brien entered the game 3 of 14 from three-point range. He scored a career-high 19 points and made 3 of 4 threes. SIU’s Jalen Pendleton, 1 for 9 from three, made both of his.… Marshall won game No. 153 at WSU. He needs two more to tie Gene Smithson for second on the school’s career list.