Wichita State Shockers

Indiana State prepares for one final shot at Wichita State

Indiana State's Jake Odum, right, drives by Southern Illinois' Anthony Beane (25) in the second half of Saturday’s Missouri Valley Conference semifinal at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Indiana State's Jake Odum, right, drives by Southern Illinois' Anthony Beane (25) in the second half of Saturday’s Missouri Valley Conference semifinal at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Associated Press

Everything went into Feb. 5. Every piece of the community in Terre Haute, Ind., sprung into action that day for the Indiana State basketball team.

The students at the school. The people in the city. The players on the court, most of all. It was all-in.

Nothing mattered more than beating Wichita State that night. Nothing.

“And then we lost and it just ripped our guts out,” Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said. “Anybody that plays this game would say, ‘I want to play them again in St. Louis,’ but be careful what you wish for.”

Indiana State’s shot at redemption against the Shockers comes via a hard-fought, 62-59 win over Southern Illinois on Saturday in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinals behind a gutsy performance from senior point guard Jake Odum, who scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half.

Their reward? One final shot at No. 2 WSU and its 33-0 record after a 68-48 loss to WSU at Koch Arena on Jan. 18 and a 65-58 loss in Terre Haute.

“I’ve wanted a piece of Wichita State since they got us at our place,” Odum said. “We feel like we competed with them (in Terre Haute) ... they’re a really good team. In my opinion, they’re the best team in the nation.

“Our goal when we got here was to meet up with them in the championship and give it all we’ve got. That’s what we’re going to do tomorrow.”

The Sycamores got all they could handle from Southern Illinois on Saturday as the Salukis rallied from a 57-50 deficit with 4:50 left to get within 60-59 after a pair of free throws by Desmar Jackson. Lansing had a set play on the ensuing possession for Odum to get the ball to center Justin Gant for a jumper, but Gant’s shot was off and Khristian Smith saved the day for the Sycamores with a tip-in with eight seconds left.

It was Smith’s only basket.

“I just had to wait for the right moment,” Smith said, smiling. “I got one, and that was the one that counted.”

And Indiana State (23-9) doesn’t need a scouting report. They know the Shockers as well as the Shockers know them.

“Fred (VanVleet) is the head of the snake, he’s the one that makes everything go,” Odum said. “And then there’s Tekele Cotton and Ron Baker, who are also great players. They can beat you in so many ways.”

Gant has had two games of banging in the post with the Shockers’ three-headed big man combination of Kadeem Coleby, Chadrack Lufile and Darius Carter.

“They’re great on defense and they’re physical, start to finish,” Gant said. “They come at you in waves and wear you down.”

A third shot at WSU isn’t all the Sycamores wanted, however. They want more than that.

“We didn’t come here to just make it to the championship game,” Lansing said. “We came here to win it. If we aren’t good enough and (WSU) goes into the NCAA Tournament undefeated, they have a great chance to win the whole thing. If we are good enough, we’re going to go there and do something, too.”

S. ILLINOIS (14-19): Jackson 1-10 6-8 8, Smithpeters 4-8 3-3 13, Olaniyan 1-2 3-4 5, Beane 7-16 1-4 16, O’Brien 1-2 1-2 3, Pendleton 4-9 2-6 10, Drinkard 0-0 0-0 0, Fillyaw 0-1 0-0 0, B. Verhines 1-1 2-2 4, D. Verhines 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-49 18-29 59.

INDIANA ST. (23-9): Kitchell 1-3 0-0 3, Arop 3-7 2-2 10, Gant 4-6 4-6 13, Cummings 3-8 0-0 6, Odum 5-11 10-15 20, Eitel 0-2 0-0 0, Brown 2-5 0-0 4, Moore 1-1 0-0 2, Burnett 1-2 0-0 2, Smith 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 21-48 16-23 62.

Halftime—S. Illinois 30-29. 3-Point Goals—S. Illinois 3-12 (Smithpeters 2-4, Beane 1-4, Pendleton 0-1, Fillyaw 0-1, Jackson 0-2), Indiana St. 4-15 (Arop 2-6, Kitchell 1-1, Gant 1-1, Burnett 0-1, Odum 0-1, Eitel 0-2, Cummings 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—S. Illinois 36 (Olaniyan 7), Indiana St. 31 (Arop 7). Assists—S. Illinois 7 (Beane, Jackson 2), Indiana St. 6 (Cummings, Odum 2). Total Fouls—S. Illinois 17, Indiana St. 22. A—13,966.

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