Wichita State jumped from No. 81 to No. 59 Jerry Palm’s RPI with Wednesday’s 65-62 win at Missouri State. That’s the kind of spot the Shockers can work from the rest of the season. It is the kind of win WSU hasn’t had since early 2006-07 – a road win against a legit team. WSU hasn’t had that kind of MVC win since 2005-06.
A little thanks for helping WSU’s RPI should also go to Pittsburgh, which has jumped from No. 54 to No. 11 with a six-game win streak. WSU has gone from No. 105 to No. 59 the past four games, three of them victories.
How significant was WSU’s collapse in the second half? The Shockers didn’t seem too bothered after the game. When you’re 2-17 in MVC road games, you’re not picky about how they come. Everybody expected MSU to make a run. I didn’t expect it to erase 24 of a 25-point lead. That’s not good. It’s also not fatal, largely because the Shockers won. It’s strange how one or two seemingly small items can really change the momentum. Wednesday, Graham Hatch, who rarely misses, missed a free throw with WSU up 49-29. Nafis Ricks took the ball from Demetric Williams on the next possession and Kyle Weems converted a three-point play. That started a 20-2 run that got MSU within 51-49, helped because WSU didn’t score for just over five minutes.
The problems, essentially, started when Ricks took Williams out of the offense and disrupted everything. The Shockers never really got their rhythm back on offense, and Ricks deserves a lot of that credit with his defense on Williams and Clevin Hannah. Hannah made a bad pass during the meltdown. So did Toure Murry. Garrett Stutz took an ill-advised three. Gabe Blair had a layup blocked. The Shockers missed several close shots, some of which went in and out or rolled around the rim before bouncing away.
The Shockers would prefer to focus on the previus 28 minutes, with good reason. They made the Bears look bad. I’m inclined to believe WSU should feel good about this road win because it’s a road win. It can learn from its second-half problems, not wallow in them. Most MVC teams will leave JQH Arena with a loss. Winning this one puts WSU in a strong position.Around the Valley