▪ Key statistics: Wichita State outscored Drake 42-24 in the paint and 26-8 on second-chance points.
WSU’s 54-28 rebounding edge (plus-26) is its largest of the season and its fourth game with an edge of 20 or more.
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It’s WSU’s biggest rebounding margin since it went plus-30 against Newman in 2014. It is also WSU’s biggest edge against an NCAA Division I school since 2011, when it out-rebounded Washington State by 27 in the NIT.
▪ How the game turned: No mystery here. WSU led 18-5 after Drake missed 9 of its first 11 shots and committed three turnovers.
Shocker guard Daishon Smith, as he did against Bradley, hustled on defense in the early minutes and grabbed two steals in the first four minutes, both of which led to baskets.
▪ Records: DU 3-12, 1-2 MVC; WSU 13-3, 3-0
▪ Rotation watch: One game after WSU coach Gregg Marshall said he needed to get guard Austin Reaves more minutes, he did so.
Reaves played a season-high 19 minutes to score five points, grab five rebounds and hand out three assists without a turnover.
Much has been written about Reaves, but one skill that might get lost is his post passing. Because of his height and skill, he might be WSU’s best option at that art. I’m betting it wasn’t coincidence he delivered a pass to Darral Willis late in the Indiana State game when the Shockers needed a basket badly.
Defenders can’t help off of him because of his three-point accuracy and he shows a nice knack to move into open spots to take post passes.
▪ Somebody said this:
▪ Good: Shocker guard Landry Shamet recorded an offensive rating of 1.71 points per possession, according to kenpom.com, his second-best this season.
Shamet’s on a smart ball-handling tear, which is always a favorite trend of his coach. He had five assists and no turnovers vs. Drake, and has 18 assists and three turnovers in the past four games. He leads the MVC in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.4.
“Landry’s trying to be cautious with the ball, securing the ball with two hands, not trying to do things he can’t do,” Marshall said. “It’s a mind-set. You’re either going to be very cautious and smart and tough with the ball, or you’re going to be sloppy and careless and flippant when you have the ball. Hopefully, we can get the rest of the guys to think more like him.”
Shamet serves as an excellent secondary ball-handler who keeps the offense moving and rarely feels the need to force risky passes.
“I can’t take all the credit for that,” he said. “Guys are moving really well. Coach’s really been putting an emphasis on getting cuts to the basket, no standing. I just deliver the pass to them.”
Shamet can take credit for realizing how important each possession is to his coach. There is no quicker way to the bench for a Shocker than after a careless turnover.
“I’ve always kind of been kind of cautious player, almost to a fault, where it turns into me being non-aggressive,” he said. “I’ve never really been one, knock on wood, to turn the ball over a lot.”
▪ Bad: The Shockers didn’t look great in the second half, in part because of nine turnovers and defensive slippage.
Perhaps a more experienced team extends the lead, but outside of film study, those 20 minutes are quickly forgotten.
▪ Numbers guy says: WSU out-rebounded the Bulldogs by 26, its fourth game with a margin of 20-plus this season.
While the Shockers love rebound margins, those numbers are noteworthy even for this program.
Last season’s team grabbed a plus-20 twice. The 2014-15 team also had two.
In 2013-14, none. In 2012-13, twice. In 2011-12, none.
▪ Next up: at Northern Iowa (5-9, 0-3), 3 p.m. Sunday (ESPNU)
The Panthers are 2-9 since a 3-0 start that included wins over Oklahoma and Arizona State. In retrospect, that should have been a clue that WSU’s win over OU wasn’t going to wow the NCAA selection committee.
UNI is a woeful offensive team in the post-Washpun pick and roll era. It is shooting 39.9 percent from the field. According to kenpom.com, UNI’s two-point accuracy of 42.4 percent ranks No. 328 nationally. Its offensive efficiency of 1.0 points per possession ranks No. 241.
In three MVC games, UNI is 16 of 58 (27.6 percent) from three-point range.
Klint Carlson, last seen lighting it up in the 2016 NCAA and MVC tournaments, is 4 of 14 from the field in MVC play, averaging 3.3 points.
The Panthers can’t be this bad for too much longer. The Shockers may benefit from catching UNI when it’s struggling. Other MVC contenders might not be as fortunate later in the season.