WSU scored 11 points off 11 Evansville turnovers.Key statistics: The Shockers showed balanced scoring, putting six players with nine or more points. They made 7 of 19 threes and outscored Evansville by 14 points at the foul line.
How the game turned: The Shockers took the Aces out of their offense in the first half to build a 39-33 halftime lead. After the Aces closed to within four, Tekele Cotton stole a pass and scored to start an 11-2 run that gave WSU a 53-41 lead.
Records: EU 10-13, 3-7 MVC; WSU 23-0, 10-0
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Six Shockers scored nine or more points, making it the most balanced box scores of the season. Five players scored nine or more against Davidson on Dec. 29, all in the starting lineup. In MVC play, four in double figures is the most by the Shockers. WSU’s bench outscored Evansville’s 24-13, the fourth time in 10 MVC games it built an edge in that stat. Darius Carter continues to give the Shockers a consistent scorer off the bench. Since moving back to a reserve role at Missouri State, he has scored eight or more points four times. Nick Wiggins made both his threes and is 5 of 11 over the past four games. He also played 13 minutes with a turnover and hasn’t had one four of his past five games. In that span, Wiggins has five assists and one turnover. Evan Wessel continued to contribute by giving the Shockers extra possessions. He grabbed three offensive rebounds in 13 minutes.WSU coach Gregg Marshall is an admirer of Evansville’s motion offense. Each year he watches it generate good shots for players such as Colt Ryan and D.J. Balentine. “That’s a team that does as good a job running their motion as any team I’ve ever coached against,” Marshall said. “Marty (Simmons) is one heck of a coach. With that young team, you can just see in days, weeks, months, years how good they’re going to be. They do such a great job of getting their guys shots.” Balentine took over the role of primary scorer this year, after serving as Ryan’s understudy last season, and benefits from a maze of screens and good passing. He possesses a soft touch and can make shots with a defender on him, even defenders as skilled as Tekele Cotton. Balentine, in addition to leading the MVC in scoring, averages 4.1 assists and a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. “I bet you couldn’t count how many screens they get in a game,” WSU guard Fred VanVleet said. “They cut really hard, they’re pretty physical screeners and they shoot it well. That’s a good combination.”WSU’s offense offers a little more variety. Both approaches work for their programs. “Tha’s a really good motion team,” VanVleet said. “We do a lot of different things, so I could see if we focused in on one thing all the time, how much better we would be at it. I think you’ve got to be a little diverse for different situations.”While Balentine handles the ball a lot, he is best utilized coming off screens. Evansville point guards Jaylon Brown and Duane Gibson are rarities in that they don’t take threes. Brown is 2 for 6 and Gibson 0-1.
Next up: at Indiana State, 7 p.m. (Fox Sports Kansas City)