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WSU in first place

Sometimes, there is a benefit to drafting behind the leader. Maybe that’s what Wichita State just pulled off.

Missouri State took the early lead in the MVC, which is good. But it comes with the mental burden of being the leader, talking about being the leader and being a big game on everybody’s schedule.  After Wednesday’s loss at Evansville, the Bears are tied with Northern Iowa in second place and WSU is alone in first. MSU has dropped three of its past five games and its two wins in that period are by a total of four points.

If you’re WSU and Northern Iowa, the hope is that the Bears are worn out. Coach Cuonzo Martin plays seven players and has gone to walk-on Nick Valla in recent games in hopes of lengthening his bench. Maybe the Bears are tired. Maybe they’re not. They are certainly exhibiting signs of a team that is running out of gas. Long scoring droughts in the second half are likely a sign of tired legs and tired minds.

Against Evansville, the Bears went more than seven minutes without a field goal in the final 10 minutes, allowing Evansville to build a 67-61 lead. Kyle Weems didn’t score in the final 16 minutes. In Sunday’s 60-59 loss to Northern Iowa, the Bears made one field goal in the final 10 minutes.

With six games remaining in the MVC race, there is time for the Bears to refresh. However, they opened the door for a Shocker team that appears to be peaking again and playing with confidence. The Shockers own the last 10 minutes of most games, presumably when fresh legs and a clear mind make the biggest difference. WSU controls the race, although its schedule remains the most difficult of the contenders due to trips to Northern Iowa and MSU.Around the MVC

Martin thinks the Bears need to get back to basics.One sign Evansville is improving – it wins when Colt Ryan isn’t scoring big.Northern Iowa won its eighth straight game. Illinois State, WSU’s next opponent, didn’t fade without a fight.Scoring 44 points at home is a sign things are falling apart at SIU. Coach Chris Lowery said some players on his team quit.