WSU's Ben Smith scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed five rebounds in 18 minutes.The score: WSU 94, Chicago State 44
Key statistics: No Shocker starter played more than 16 minutes. WSU out-rebounded the Cougars 53-34 and forced 19 turnovers, covering up a bad night from long range (9 of 35).
Records: CSU 0-10, WSU 8-2
Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy played Creighton and lost 95-61. His Cougars played Illinois State and lost 85-41. They played Southern Illinois and lost 73-57. Dildy didn’t need any prompting to say WSU impressed him more than the other three (and I know all you care about is Creighton). “We’ve played three Missouri Valley teams, and I thought clearly (Coach Gregg Marshall’s team) is the better team, for the simple fact I thought (WSU) really plays hard defensively,” Dildy said. “He’s got experience. He’s got versatility. I thought Creighton really shot the ball well. They’ve got a good group of shooters. But this team (WSU), they defend.”So there you have it – an early theme for the Creighton-WSU game on Dec. 31. Creighton’s scorers vs. WSU’s defense. Dildy’s assessment won’t make anyone in Omaha too scared to come to Koch Arena. The Bluejays played the Cougars on Nov. 13, so much can change.Dildy even likes this season’s Shockers better than last season’s group. “I thought they would be down this year,” he said. “They are much better team than they were last year. Because of the depth and that experience.” WSU defeated CSU 91-51 last season. I need to see more before I buy into that line of thinking. If it happens, it’s because the Shocker guards are running things so efficiently. WSU had nine turnovers on Wednesday and it hasn’t had more than 13 in its past four games.Marshall loves the way Joe Ragland is playing. So does Dildy. Ragland had six assists and no turnovers Wednesday, continuing a string of strong games. “That point guard is amazing,” Dildy said. “We tried to get them out of their comfort zone and try to get them to play fast. They were patient when they needed to be patient. He is doing whatever they need him to do to win. If they need him to score, he will score. If they need him to get assists, he’ll do that.”Shocker fans got a good look at the reserves. The issue isn’t talent. All of them can do some good things. Marshall liked the defense by Jake White and Evan Wessel. The issue is that Wessel, White and James Anacreon aren’t playing the same tempo as the experienced players. WSU has eight guys playing at one speed, plus Ehimen Orukpe, who is closer to their speed and offers such good defense that he earns minutes. The rest of the roster is a step or two behind. That can change, but it won’t be easy to earn significant minutes. “Jake and James forced a shot or two,” Marshall said. “They think they’re open. They want to be open, and they shoot it when maybe they’re not really open. They’ve got to learn the speed and the length of the game at this level.”Marshall was pleased with Ben Smith’s effort, even beyond the 22 points. “Ben Smith was our best player,” Marshall said. “He really gave us great defense. He was alive tonight, getting offensive rebounds, getting around in the post, getting deflections, rebounding it on both ends.”
Next up: vs. Newman, 7:05 p.m. Monday