News Columns & Blogs

Southern Illinois at Wichita State: Day After

SIU's defense swallows up WSU's David Kyles.Until Tuesday, Wichita State built an NCAA Tournament resume featuring one – and only one – important component. With no bad losses, the Shockers kept themselves in the conversation even without any sparkling wins.

Tuesday’s 56-53 loss to Southern Illinois changed that. Six days earlier, SIU coach Chris Lowery said his team quit in the second half of a loss to Drake at home. The Salukis lost five in a row entering Tuesday’s game. They were missing two suspended starters.“We had every reason to come here and quit and make excuses,” Lowery said. “We didn’t play that way.”The Salukis controlled the tempo, played more physically and made all the big shots. Wichitan Jack Crowder scored all 11 of SIU’s bench points. WSU’s big men, who won the battles in Carbondale, missed too many shots in the lane. J.T. Durley, Gabe Blair and Garrett Stutz combined to shoot 6 of 21 from the field.“Missing jumpers, missing layups,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “It was that kind of night.”WSU’s woes from long-range continued. The Shockers went 3 for 15, so they didn’t take too many. They certainly didn’t make enough. Ben Smith, who couldn’t miss over his past three games, missed all four. So did David Kyles. WSU is shooting 33.3 percent from three-point range in MVC games.

Even with all that, it won’t surprise Lowery if the Shockers finish strong.“They’re still the best team in the league,” he said. “They’re the deepest. They’re the toughest, and they’re the most capable of making an MVC Tournament championship run, because they have depth.”Maybe so. That path is WSU’s only sure way to the Big Dance. The NCAA Tournament at-large pools appears weak, so the Shockers, perhaps, still have a chance to undo the damage from Tuesday’s loss with a streak that includes wins over Missouri State, Northern Iowa and VCU. A margin for error that was already slim is down to nothing, now that WSU has given the selection committee a red flag with a bad home loss.Around the Valley

Northern Iowa’s is reeling with a second straight loss without injured forward Lucas O’Rear.Missouri State coach Cuonzo Martin likes his team’s defense.Creighton is another MVC team fading in February.Drake didn’t like comments from Creighton’s Doug McDermott after the first meeting.It took a long time, and Andrew Warren is getting some help from teammates at Bradley.