The score: Wichita State 83, Southern Illinois 73
Key statistics: WSU made 8 of 19 three-pointers and 29 of 58 field goals. WSU started the second half with an 11-0 run to build a 51-33 lead.
Records: WSU 12-3, 3-1 MVC; SIU 5-10, 2-2
Shocker coach Gregg Marshall immediately put three MVC road wins in his rear-view mirror. “Now we’ve got to start winning at home,” he said. “I guess it doesn’t matter if you don’t win at home.” That’s been the story for WSU, as fans well know. Last season – 8-1 on the road and 6-3 at home. This season – 3-0 on the road and 0-1 at home. The Shockers are in position to stay on top of the MVC race with two home games coming up and then a trip to struggling Indiana State. I don’t think there is a good explanation for why WSU isn’t more dominant at home. Winning on the road is the hardest thing to do in college basketball and WSU should win more than 60 percent of its MVC home games. WSU’s offense is so good it’s easy to overlook another 80-point game. This was WSU’s seventh 80-plus game. Last season, WSU had seven, needing triple-overtime in one. WSU got to 80 with a resurgence from the backcourt. In the two previous games, Joe Ragland, David Kyles, Toure Murry and Demetric Williams combined to shoot 16 of 50 (32 percent) and 7 of 26 (26.9) from three-point range. They totaled 13 assists and 15 turnovers. Saturday, that quartet shot 18 of 36 and 7 of 15. Ragland (9-16) and Williams (4-6) did most of that work. They totaled 10 assists and five turnovers. Murry didn’t shoot well (3-9), but he made 8 of 10 free throws. I don’ t think it’s coincidence WSU failed to break 70 in two games in which Ragland struggled. He is WSU’s best all-around scorer, a player who can stretch defenses with the three and drive to the basket. So it was good to see Ragland come through with one of the game’s biggest baskets, a three from Murry that gave WSU a 70-60 lead. Ragland followed that with a steal and layup to stop SIU’s momentum. “I felt that was a big shot that I had to make at that point,” he said. “I’ve been working on my shot.” SIU starts a difficult stretch. It plays at Missouri State, plays host to Indiana State, then goes to Creighton. SIU has talent and its guard play is improved over recent seasons. However, with eight new players, it’s going to be tough for SIU to come up with the chemistry and consistency necessary. Coach Chris Lowery looks enviously at WSU’s experience. “They’re a senior-dominated team,” he said. “In the guts of the game, you have to give those five seniors credit.” Lowery was pleased with the way his team boxed out WSU forward Carl Hall. Then he looked at the stat sheet and saw Hall finished with nine rebounds, five on the offensive glass. He remained pleased. Hall’s ferocity on the backboards is making a big impression on MVC coaches.
Next up: vs. Illinois State, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday (Kansas 22)