In related developments, Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet took a career-high 19 shots and center Darius Carter played 17 minutes before fouling out in Wednesday’s 69-68 overtime loss at Utah.
The eighth-ranked Shockers (4-1) play Saint Louis (5-2) on Saturday at Intrust Bank Arena after their 35-game regular-season win streak ended against the 25th-ranked Utes. WSU’s offense is normally an efficient machine with VanVleet wisely making decisions on how to distribute the ball. WSU shot 38.1 percent against Utah, in part because Carter’s foul troubles robbed the offense of its lone inside scorer and knocked the attack out of balance.
VanVleet took three shots, one late in the shot clock, in the game’s first 13 minutes and performed his normal role running the offense. Carter picked up his second foul with 8:23 to play and sat the rest of the first half. In the game’s final 23 minutes, VanVleet took 16 shots and made five, many while Carter watched from the bench.
Tough game for both. With Saint Louis in town, it is time to learn and move on. Carter can do his part by staying on the floor. In five games, he hasn’t played more than 23 minutes. Fouls played a role in limiting him to 12 minutes against New Mexico State and 18 against Tulsa.
“I’m thinking about playing four guys on the defensive end and him standing on the offensive end and seeing how that works,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “He gets himself in a disadvantage sometimes and then he tries to make up for it.”
Carter picked up his first foul trying to keep Utah’s Delon Wright on a drive. He came out with 17:28 to play in the first half. He returned three minutes later and played just under six minutes before fouling another driving opponent. That ended his first half.
“I’m putting myself in bad positions, at times,” Carter said. “Like being late on a hedge last game, that got me a quick foul. I’ve just got to be smarter.”
Without Carter, who scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, the burden fell to VanVleet and guard Ron Baker, who took 32 of WSU’s 63 shots. The Shockers used their ball-screen offense more than normal against Utah in an attempt to draw the bigger Utes away from the basket. That put the ball in the hands of VanVleet and Baker. he Utes, willing to let other Shockers try to beat them, concentrated their defense on the guards.
VanVleet ended the game with 13 points on 5-of-19 shooting. He missed eight of his career-high 10 three-point shots. With VanVleet’s long record of efficiency, Marshall saw the game as an aberration. He noted the shooting problems didn’t affect VanVleet’s defense. He guarded Wright most of the second half and in overtime.
“I know he wants to win,” Marshall said. “I just talked to the team and said ‘Make sure you take good shots. Don’t let the ball stick to your hands. If you’re going to take 19 shots, they better be 18 1/2 really good shots.”
The Utes went under screens when defending VanVleet, perhaps because of an early-season shooting slump, which invited him to take open shots. He saw many of the 19 shots as part of the offense’s natural flow, often when a big man switched to guard him after a screen and then backed up when VanVleet faked a drive.
“I’ve always taken what the defense has given me,” he said. “I was just trying to be aggressive and make some things happen. I’m a confident shooter … I just haven’t been making them. I’m looking forward to getting back on track.”
He missed shots he normally makes, including layups driving against a team with intimidating height. A three that would have cut Utah’s lead to three points late in the game rattled in and out. Two minutes later, he missed another three after backing off a big man to create space for a shot. He made both of his threes in the final 1:11 of regulation, both times taking advantage of bigger defenders on the perimeter to get a good look at the basket. His second three gave WSU a 60-58 lead with 37 seconds remaining.
VanVleet probably isn’t far off track. He made 41.8 percent of his three-pointers last season (38 of 91). Even with this season’s inaccuracy, he remains a career 38.4-percent shooter from behind the arc.
“I’m going to have to be smart about it,” he said. “I think I took a little bit too many shots. I was pressing a little bit and forced up some bad ones. I took responsibility for that.”
Saint Louis at No. 8 Wichita State
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Intrust Bank Arena
Records: SLU 5-2, WSU 4-1
Radio: KEYN, 103.7-FM
TV: Cox 22
Saint Louis at No. 8 Wichita State
Saint Louis: The Billikens total 80 assists and 93 turnovers, although they have forced more turnovers than they’ve committed in the past five games … Saint Louis is shooting 41.1 percent from the field and 36.1 percent behind the arc. It has yet to shoot better than 50 percent from the field and its high is 49.1 against NCAA Division II Rockhurst … There are eight freshmen on the roster and they account for 42 percent of the scoring … McBroom is 18 of 38 from three-point range (47.4 percent). He scored 26 points against Bradley and made six threes. No other player has more than 14 attempts … Nine players started so far this season with McBroom and Yacoubou the only ones to start all seven games … Freshman F Milik Yarbrough averages 7.3 points and 3.6 rebounds, shooting 61.1 percent from the field … Opponents out-rebounded the Billikens three times, including Mississippi State by 15 and Bradley by 17 … Saint Louis went 11-1 on the road last season, a mark bettered only by WSU’s 12-0 … Coach Jim Crews, in his third season, is a former coach at Evansville.
Wichita State: WSU announced the game as a sellout, its first in five games in the 15,004-seat Intrust Bank Arena. Last season’s game against Tennessee drew a previous high of 14,356. WSU is 4-0 in the downtown arena … The Shockers defeated Saint Louis 70-65 last season with Baker scoring 22 points. Saint Louis forced 18 turnovers, four by VanVleet, and scored 25 points from those turnovers … Utah outrebounded WSU 40-37 on Wednesday, the first opponent to beat the Shockers on the boards this season. WSU has been outrebounded 17 times in the past 146 games … Saint Louis leads the series 41-20. The schools will play next season in St. Louis and in Wichita the following season.