▪ Key statistics: Indiana State lacks offensive diversity and the Shockers took away its outside shooting power.
The Sycamores made 5 of 23 three-pointers. Any scenario that had them keeping Saturday’s game close required about twice as many makes. Leading scorer Brenton Scott scored three points on 1-of-7 shooting.
Indiana State’s rotation of four bigs totaled nine points on 4-of-12 shooting.
▪ How the game turned: Scott, who scored 24 points and made 4 of 5 threes in last season’s game at Koch Arena, slumped early and never recovered.
WSU’s Shaq Morris stole an entry pass made by Scott, thrown softly and from a poor angle, on Indiana State’s first possession.
On the next trip, Scott threw a pass wild, high and out of bound. Scott missed two shots and the Sycamores trailed 15-4 seven minutes in.
▪ Records: ISU 7-13, 1-7 MVC; WSU 17-4, 7-1
▪ Rotation watch: WSU coach Gregg Marshall said he started Zach Brown for Markis McDuffie so that Brown could guard Scott, a task he handled at Hulman Center in December.
Scott averaged 17.8 points entering the game. In two games against WSU, he totals 17 on 4-of-21 shooting. While Brown leads the effort, McDuffie and others area also part of the plan.
“When you hold Brenton Scott to three points … that’s 15 points to the good for your team and that’s why Zach Brown is out there,” Marshall said.
WSU’s team defense also prioritized Scott. When he drove, he usually found a wall of Shockers waiting.
Brown’s shot selection is sometimes a point of contention with Marshall. Not on Saturday after he took one shot and missed.
“He was very selective on his shooting,” Marshall said. “He should have taken another (three) in the right corner, but he passed on it. I want to make sure I commend him. He helps you win with his athleticism, rebounding and defense.”
WSU did a number of other good things on defense to hold the Sycamores to 33.3-percent shooting, their second-lowest performance of the season. It is the lowest shooting percentage allowed by WSU in MVC games this season.
▪ Somebody said this:
▪ Good: The Shockers committed six turnovers, one in the second half.
In MVC play, they are plus-32 on turnovers with a high of 14 in a high-possession game against Drake.
▪ Bad: The Sycamores will have a hard time avoiding Thursday at the MVC Tournament.
They also own the MVC’s best non-conference win, over Butler (No. 4 in the RPI ranking) on Dec. 7.
Coach Greg Lansing is mystified.
“We’re not a team right now,” he said. “We were passive at both ends of the floor. It could have got a lot worse at the end. He called off the dogs.”
▪ Numbers guy says: Morris recorded his highest Pomeroy offensive efficiency rating of the season — 146. No. 2 came Tuesday at Evansville, 143.
In those games he is 11 of 21 from the field, 18 of 21 from the line with six assists and no turnovers.
After missing two games in late December with a right thigh contusion, Morris has worked his way back into good health.
A Morris who can run the floor and beat his defender to a good position is a Morris who is hard to guard.
“You’re starting to see what he is capable of,” Marshall said. “I love throwing it in to him. He’s got some really strong moves, especially when he’s fresh.”
▪ On and on: WSU won its 10th straight over the Sycamores.
It owns double-digit win streaks against Bradley (14), Missouri State (12), Drake (10) and Loyola (10).
If you’re counting, that’s streaks of more than 10 games against five of nine MVC opponents.
▪ Next up: vs. Southern Illinois (11-10, 4-4), 6 p.m. Tuesday (CBS Sports Network)
The Salukis are losers of three of their last four. On Saturday, Northern Iowa overcame a 12-point deficit to win 58-57 by finishing the game on a 16-3 run.
SIU missed 10 of its final 11 shots and shot 38.6 percent from the field at SIU Arena.
The Salukis are a dramatically improved defensive team in MVC play, holding teams .993 points per possession, third in the conference. In all games, SIU allows 1.07 points per possession.
It ranks first in the Valley by forcing turnovers on 21.3 percent of possessions.
Perimeter scoring and defense is an issue. SIU is shooting 31.1 percent from three-point range in MVC play, ninth in the conference. Opponents are shooting 39.3 percent, eighth for defending the three-pointer.