▪ Wichita State held the Redbirds to 27 percent shooting and 58 points in the first meeting, which looks like a strong defensive effort in most ways.
The Shockers were not pleased.
In the first half, the Redbirds missed several easy shots, ones they did not miss in the second half and are not likely to miss often.
In the second half, the Redbirds scored 37 points to rally from a 16-point deficit early in the half.
Illinois State grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and scored nine second-chance points. When the Shockers did play good defense, they wasted several possessions by not rebounding.
The Shockers weren’t as aggressive as normal in the passing lanes in the first meeting, a 58-53 Illinois State victory. They forced only nine turnovers and allowed the Redbirds to run their offense without objection too often.
So while WSU’s work against Illinois State’s zone defense was an issue, the defensive letdowns hurt. The Shockers didn’t force turnovers and didn’t get many easy baskets. The rebounding deficit gave the Redbirds an opening.
▪ Illinois State, as recent meetings show, can match the Shockers with size and athletic ability. It has won two in a row, rallying from second-half deficits both times, because Illinois State doesn’t get overwhelmed by the Shockers like most MVC teams.
The Redbirds present matchup problems all over the court because of their size and athletic ability. WSU’s centers will often have to guard post players who can make three-pointers — Deontae Hawkins — which is not what Shaq Morris and Anton Grady usually do. The Redbirds can often find size mismatches when Fred VanVleet, Conner Frankamp and Evan Wessel are on the floor.
It is a defensive challenge other Valley schools don’t present.
▪ The Shockers made 4 of 18 three-pointers in last season’s 65-62 loss in the MVC Tournament against the Redbirds. It made 6 of 27 in the loss in January. The Redbirds outscored WSU by 13 points at the line in both games.
▪ Redbirds guard Paris Lee is making a push for All-MVC honors with his recent play. He has scored in double figures in six straight games, including 19 in the first meeting and a career-high 21 against Southern Illinois on Saturday. Lee gave WSU problems with his driving in the first meeting and the Shockers must do a better job keeping him out of the lane.
Illinois State at Wichita State
- When: 1 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Koch Arena
- Records: ISU 18-12, 12-5 MVC; WSU 22-7, 15-2
- Radio: KEYN, 103.7-FM
- TV: ESPN2
- Senior day schedule: At halftime, the scoreboard will show a “Thank you” video from the seniors. After the game, the five seniors and their families will be honored, followed by a presentation of the MVC championship trophy and net-cutting.