The score: WSU 90, Bradley 51
Key statistics: The Shockers shot 60.7 percent in the second half to expand a 15-point halftime lead. WSU scored 48 points in the lane and 26 on offensive rebounds.
Records: WSU 10-2, 1-0 MVC; BU 5-8, 0-1
The only more interesting night in the MVC in my years on the WSU beat was Feb. 14, 2006. That’s the night the Shockers took control of the conference race, courtesy of Matt Braeuer’s three to beat Creighton in overtime and losses by other contenders. It’s early, but Wednesday rocked the conventional wisdom. We saw WSU hand Bradley its worst home loss in 108 seasons and its worst MVC loss in 60 seasons as a member. We saw Missouri State slow down Creighton’s vaunted offense and beat the Jays 77-65 in Omaha. We saw Drake handle Indiana State 79-64. Creighton scored its fewest points of the season. Indiana State allowed the most. Welcome to conference play.I can’t add much to illuminate WSU’s performance. The Shockers did everything well. Certainly, Bradley is over-matched in coach Geno Ford’s first season. On most nights in MVC play, over-matched means a 20-point loss. WSU coach Gregg Marshall inherited a similar situation in 2007-08 and the worst loss was 24 points at Missouri State.Bradley accomplished enough in its non-conference play to gain WSU’s respect. “You see them on videotape and you know that ultimately Geno is going to have a very, very fine run here,” Marshall said. “It takes time. I remember my first year, it wasn’t a whole lot of fun.”The Braves started 3-0, played Wisconsin and Nevada, won a road game and played Michigan tough before losing 77-66 on the road. They should not have been overwhelmed by WSU. “We played a good schedule, but we haven’t been out-played like that,” Ford said. “Wisconsin didn’t even outplay us that bad, even though they beat us (66-43).”LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are following Toure Murry’s lead by limiting their attempts from three-point range. Murry started the trend earlier this season. He didn’t take one Wednesday, his second straight without a shot from long distance. He is 0 for 5 in his past five games, which is a lot better than being, say 0 for 10. The Shockers have plenty of shooters and Murry appears happy to help the team by being a passer, driver, rebounder and defender.James Anacreon looked like a player who can be useful. It will be interesting to see how much he plays against Creighton. Regardless, he showed defensive assets that might help. The Shockers look deep playing nine guys regularly. Marshall isn’t satisfied. “We need to extend our bench, and get James and Jake (White) and Evan (Wessel) and Tekele (Cotton) and Ehimen (Orukpe) more game ready,” Marshall said.If there was a defensive key, it was WSU holding down Bradley’s guards. Walt Lemon Jr. and Dyricus Simms-Edwards combined to shoot 2 of 18 from the field and commit six turnovers with two assists. Lemon, who had averaged 18.2 points in his previous five games, scored six. Simms-Edwards, who averages 12 points, scored four. Lemon makes the BU offense go with his driving and the Shockers rarely gave him easy lanes to the basket. “Just keep him in front – coaches stressed that,” WSU guard Joe Ragland said. “All I had to do was keep him in front (of me) and I knew I had a lot of gap support and help from my teammates.”In case you missed it – the historical crack at Wednesday’s game: WSU handed Bradley its 1) worst home loss in 108 seasons of basketball, 2) worst loss in 60 MVC seasons, 3) its worst loss since a 58-17 loss at Millikin in 1935. WSU defeated Bradley by the largest margin in the 126-game series. The Shockers have scored 90 or more points in three straight games for the first time since the first three games of the 1980-81 season.
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Up next: vs. Creighton, 5 p.m., Dec. 31 (ESPNU)