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Wichita State beats Illinois State 66-47 for 16th straight win

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, at 9:08 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at 2:18 p.m.


Recap of Illinois State at Wichita State (1/8/14)

No. 6 WSU goes to 16-0, 3-0 MVC after 66-47 win

Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet passed out 10 assists and his team made 23 shots. He made two of those shots, which gives VanVleet a significant part in producing more than half of WSU’s baskets.

That seems to accurately depict his importance and his control over Wednesday’s 66-47 win over Illinois State at Koch Arena.

No. 6 Wichita State will face some challenges to its dominance in the Missouri Valley Conference. Wednesday was not the night and Illinois State not the opponent and VanVleet made sure of that.

“He’s such a confident, tough player,” Illinois State coach Dan Muller said. “He complements their other players very well. He’s playing at a high level.”

And as long as VanVleet does, so will the Shockers (16-0, 3-0 MVC), who extended their school-record winning streak despite shooting poorly (41.1 percent) from the field and even worse from the foul line (11 of 22).

VanVleet, turnover-free for a fourth straight game, directed WSU’s work against Illinois State’s 2-3 zone, often lobbing the ball over smaller players for dunks. Illinois State’s press rarely bothered the Shockers. Without the traps producing steals, the Redbirds (8-7, 1-2) produced few of the easy baskets their four-guard lineup needs to keep pace with bigger teams.

“We’ve got 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9 down there that can jump to the square,” VanVleet said. “You just want to throw it up and let them go get it. We used that to our advantage a lot.”

VanVleet briefly left the game in the second half after a Redbird rolled up on his left knee. After a quick checkup, VanVleet returned to the bench and then the game. He said one of the Redbirds, perhaps guard Bobby Hunter, apologized after the game.

“Nothing serious,” he said. “Just sore. I’ve never had any knee problems and that’s kind of what scared me about it. I had never felt anything like that before.”

While the Shockers calmly executed, the Redbirds came unraveled late in the first half. They took quick shots, often guarded, that helped WSU run breaks. Redbirds guard Zach Lofton, shooting 30.7 percent entering the game, found a way to lower his accuracy by missing 15 of 18 shots.

“We didn't handle the moment very well,” Muller said. “We don't shoot that many air balls, usually.”

WSU held the Redbirds to 32.7-percent shooting and scored 19 points off 15 turnovers. ISU went 7 for 26 from behind the arc.

Ron Baker made 3 of 6 threes and scored 11 points. Cleanthony Early also scored 11.

Hunter led Illinois State with 11 points.

The Shockers started the second half with a 9-2 run for a 46-26 lead. The Redbirds briefly rallied. Then the Shockers took over for good. Baker found Nick Wiggins behind the zone defense for a lob dunk and a 51-30 lead. Early followed with a three-point play to make it 54-30 with 10:53 remaining.

The Shockers moved the ball crisply against Illinois State’s 2-3 zone defense and found open shooters in the first half. WSU made 6 of 13 three-pointers, with Baker making 3 of 5 to score 11 points.

Early started the outside shooting with two corner threes early in the game. Baker’s long three, to beat the shot clock, gave WSU a 17-12 lead and started a 16-4 run.

WSU’s Darius Carter tipped in a miss by Early just before the buzzer to give the Shockers a 37-24 halftime lead.

Another MVC opponent gets its chance to derail the Shockers on Saturday at Missouri State. WSU is 3-0 in the MVC with no game closer than 14 points. The Shockers are waiting on the challenge.

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