▪ This has the look of a rebounding mismatch. The Shockers are plus-9.2 on the boards and the Billikens are minus-2.6. Mississippi State out-rebounded Saint Louis by 15 and Bradley by 17. In seven games, Saint Louis has outscored its opponent on second-chance points once, and that includes giving up 13 second-chance points to Rockhurst while scoring eight.
Rebounding totals can mislead. Saint Louis wants to hold a team under 60 points and control the tempo. The Billikens give up few fast-break points, so they may concede many offensive rebounds in an attempt to get back on defense and get organized.
WSU is rarely out-rebounded (10 times the past two-plus seasons). When the Shockers are out-rebounded, they normally bounce back with enthusiasm, prompted by enthusiastic reminders of the importance of blocking out and pursuing the ball during practice. Utah out-rebounded WSU 40-37 on Wednesday and the Shockers missed some box-outs and gave up 10 offensive rebounds to a bigger team.
Over the previous two seasons, teams out-rebounded the Shockers eight times (removing the 2014 NCAA loss to Kentucky) and the Shockers out-rebounded their next opponent by an average of 11.1. That could mean many things, depending on the opponent and style of game, but it definitely means the Shockers improve on what the coaches emphasize.
It’s meaningless for today, but Indiana State owns three of those 10 rebounding victories.
▪ Evan Wessel’s career-high nine rebounds went unnoticed after the Utah game. He grabbed four offensive rebounds and now leads the Shockers with an average of 5.2 rebounds. His nine offensive rebounds are second on the team behind Rashard Kelly’s 12.
▪ There is no mystery in how Saint Louis wants to win. It is 5-0 when holding an opponent under 60 points and 0-2 when opponents score more than 60. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi defeated the Billkens 62-56 (we see you, former Shockers assistant Marty Gross) at Saint Louis. Mississippi State routed the Billikens 75-50 on a neutral court.
Saint Louis lost five seniors from last season’s NCAA Tournament team. Coach Jim Crews didn’t alter his defense-first style.
“Why would you change?” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “They’ve been pretty good.”
▪ Saint Louis is 3-0 vs. the MVC, with wins over Southern Illinois (62-59), Indiana State (69-56) and Bradley (60-57).
▪ I like the downtown game more each season, largely because it gives fans a chance to see the Shockers. Access to Koch Arena is getting more difficult, both because people don’t give up tickets as often and because the market makes tickets more expensive. The annual game at Intrust Bank Arena is a wise move by WSU.
▪ The Wichita Eagle: WSU needs to get its offense in alignment after loss at Utah.
▪ Bob Lutz: Marshall helped convince a member of the 1965 Final Four team to return for his reunion in February.
▪ St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Saint Louis leans heavily on guard Austin McBroom.