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February 24, 2013

Day After: Detroit at Wichita State

WSU guard Demetric Williams scored 14 points and handed out three assists in Saturday’s win. Score: WSU 94, Detroit 79

Key stats: WSU made 33 of 60 shots and outscored the Titans 22-7 at the foul line.

How the game turned: The Titans missed four three-pointers and two layups and went one for three from the line during WSU’s 7-0 run that gave the Shockers a 77-68 lead with 9:13 remaining.

Wichita Eagle/ coverage here.

It is easy to take Missouri Valley Conference defense for granted. It takes a game like Saturday’s to provide a refresher on how different conferences play different styles. Detroit plays a different style, and the Shockers enjoyed the freedom to move about the floor without a defender on their back. While both teams had plenty of time to prepare, the scouting reports aren’t nearly as dominant as they are in conference play. “It was a relief when you don’t have to whisper plays and do signals and you could just go out there and play and steal some easy baskets with sets,” WSU guard Fred VanVleet said. “(In MVC play), teams know what you’re doing to do next and it makes it difficult to score.” After being a liability for long stretches this season, WSU three-point shooting is on a significant hot streak. The Shockers made 6 of 15 against Detroit (40 percent), its sixth straight game at 37 percent or better. WSU’s RPI settled in at No. 30 after Saturday’s win. The goal now is to move comfortably away from the dreaded 8-9 seeding. I think it has a chance to reach No. 5 with five more wins. WSU goes 4-6 in BracketBusters games and is 8-0 in the returns with games against Davidson and Detroit remaining. The Shockers turned the weekend into a big plus for the program. Not only did it provide memorable games and good opponents, it helped the rest of the MVC schedule. The question for the future is how MVC schools will fill two dates each season. If schools use it for a bad-RPI opponents, the entire conference suffers. Some schools will handle those dates better than others and you can be sure this is an issue the MVC office has its eye on. The expiration of the MVC-MWC Challenge adds another date to be filled and takes games against schools such as UNLV and San Diego State off the Valley books. Creighton’s tumble from NCAA certainty continued in California on Saturday with a 74-66 loss to Saint Mary’s. The Bluejays have time to rally, secure a spot and win the MVC title. Five wins in a row will erase a lot of these problems. However, they aren’t playing like a team that can win  five in a row. The loss of guard Josh Jones must be considered as a factor in Creighton’s issues. Jones had to quit basketball because of a heart problem eight games into the season. He had nine steals in those eight games, which is still as many as Avery Dingman and Ethan Wragge and more than Doug McDermott (6) have in 29 games.

Next up: vs. Evansville, 7 p.m. Wednesday (Cox 22)

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