Shaq Morris got it all right on Saturday — scoring, rebounding, defense and interpreting officiating rules. He started the game with a pretty spin move for a basket and ended by saluting the crowd after an ovation for his 21 minutes of hard work.
“We all get so excited when he does great things,” forward Markis McDuffie said. “We know how good he is and we just need him to use that in every game.”
Morris, a 6-foot-8 junior center, turned in the most complete performance of his 86-game career in Wichita State’s 84-58 win over Indiana State at Koch Arena. He led the Shockers with a career-high 24 points, eight rebounds, a career-high four assists and two blocks.
“He sees Indiana State’s inside guys and salivates,” Sycamores coach Greg Lansing said. “He’s a load in there.”
Wichita State (17-4, 7-1 Missouri Valley Conference) defeated the Sycamores for the 10th straight time and swept the season series.
Morris made 6 of 10 shots and 12 of 15 free throws to set his season high for a second straight game. Coming off his first double-double (17 points and 10 rebounds) at Evansville on Tuesday, Morris kept rolling by running the court, bullying defenders for real estate close to the hoop and avoiding fouls.
The fans noticed and he returned the affection when he came out late in the game.
“I just love all the fans here,” Morris said. “I try to play my game, play our game, and give the fans what they want – effort.”
McDuffie added 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Austin Reaves scored 11, 10 in the first half.
Matt Van Scyoc led Indiana State (7-13, 1-7) with 14 points. The Sycamores, the MVC’s most prolific three-point shooting team, missed 17 of 22 threes and shot 33 percent from the field.
Brenton Scott, who entered the game averaging 17.8 points, scored three on 1-of-7 shooting. WSU coach Gregg Marshall inserted Zach Brown into the starting lineup, for McDuffie, to guard Scott and Brown erased Indiana State’s offensive leader.
The Shockers scored 16 points off 15 turnovers and outscored Indiana State 30-13 at the foul line.
Morris started the road to the rout with a spinning move for a basket and 4-0 lead. After blocking a shot, he beat his defender to a spot near the basket and tossed in a hook. His three foul shots put WSU up 12-4. He exited to an ovation.
Same scoring plays in the second half. Bigger ovation.
He even got a call from the officials, his long-time deniers of playing time. Guarded by Van Scyoc in the post, Morris turned to the basket and smacked the defender in the face. Van Scyoc went to the floor and stayed there for a few minutes before walking off.
The officials whistled Van Scyoc for blocking and Morris demonstrated the “cylinder rule” that gave him license to move his elbows without penalty. Lansing pronounced it a good call, an indication of just how well things went for Morris.
Things went just as well for the rest of the Shockers.
Their perimeter defense, sometimes soft by Shocker standards, overwhelmed Indiana State. The Sycamores rarely got open shots and rushed some of those. They made 10 of 24 threes in the first meeting, an 80-72 WSU win on Dec. 28.
The Shockers pressed out on Indiana State’s shooters and made them dribble to make plays, taking away most of the good looks.
“”We didn’t defend the three-point line well last game,” McDuffie said. “We were able to guard it this time.”
As it has in most home games, WSU took control early. They backed that up with a focused second half.
The Shockers kept coming with a three from McDuffie. Then Reaves, who scored 10 first-half points, grabbed the attention of the crowd. He made a three for an 18-4 lead and forced a Sycamores timeout.
He took a charge and made another three. He blocked a jumper by Donovan Franklin to earn an uncontested two-handed dunk to make it 24-4.
WSU, with deep reserves in the game early, slowed late in the half. It finished by missing seven of eight shots, mixing in three turnovers in the final four minutes, and led 37-22 at the break.
The Shockers held the Sycamores to 8-of-30 shooting in the first half, 3 of 14 from three-point range.
After the sloppy finish to the first half, the Shockers started the second half with a 15-6 run.