▪ Key statistics: The scoring chops of Darral Willis and Wichita State’s rebounding covered up a poor outside shooting game.
Willis scored a season-high 25 points, making 8 of his final 14 shots, and grabbed 10 rebounds. His rebounding effort led WSU to a 47-30 edge, 25-12 in the second half.
Willis is the first Shocker to record two double-doubles in a season since 2013-14, when Cleanthony Early totaled four.
It was another impressive display of bully ball by Willis. Indiana State has more inside depth than most MVC schools and is a solid defensive unit.
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▪ How the game turned: The Shockers led for 27 minutes, 47 seconds and, credit to the Sycamores, didn’t put it away until the final two minutes.
It took a three-pointer by Markis McDuffie with 1:25 remaining to give WSU a 76-69 edge. The Sycamores didn’t score in the final 42 seconds, missing four shots — one blocked by Willis — to end the game.
McDuffie got that shot because Austin Reaves hustled past an attempted box-out by Jordan Barnes to keep a rebound alive. Reaves bounced the ball off Indiana State’s Brenton Scott to save the possession. Reaves made a similar play against Oklahoma, coming from the corner to grab a rebound, late in that game.
“I saw it was going off left and I just tried to be aggressive and go get the rebound,” Reaves said. “If one person is doing it, another will do it. It just gets contagious and we’re all fired up. If one guy is going, we’re all going.”
McDuffie, who scored a career-high 22 points, waited out Indiana State’s Matt Van Scyoc, who gave him room to shoot. The possession didn’t have much working until McDuffie took the shot.
“He just kind of measured Van Scyoc, and Van Scyoc had been doing that all night to us, getting his feet set and knocking them down,” Marshall said. “Big play, and it started with the save on the sideline.”
▪ Records: WSU 11-3, 1-0 MVC; ISU 6-7, 0-1
▪ Rotation watch: Marshall went offense-defense at point guard in the final minutes, preferring to let Conner Frankamp run the offense and use Daishon Smith on defense.
“I still believe he’s going to make his free throws, No. 1,” Marshall said of using Frankamp. “He doesn’t turn it over, No. 2. He knows our stuff. He runs our breakdown offenses very well.”
▪ Somebody said this:
▪ Good: Brown wanted the challenge of guarding Scott, Indiana State’s leading scorer, and he did so for the majority of his 32 minutes. He said he told Marshall to keep him in the game so he could guard Scott.
“There was one point — we had a media timeout and I was about to get taken out — and I said ‘No, Coach, I need to stay in because he’s still in the game,’” Brown said. “I took that challenge to heart.”
Scott is the most unpredictable scorer in the MVC, capable of rising up from well beyond the arc, driving and everything in between. He defies the usual descriptions on a scouting report.
“There is no ‘Straight-driver right, straight-driver left, all he does is catch and shoot,’” Brown said. “He’s a very good player with many moves and many ways to score.”
WSU often rotates defenders on top scorers. Brown handled Scott most of the game, with McDuffie and Shamet getting shots late. Shamet did a nice job defending a three by Scott, one that missed badly, taken with 15 seconds remaining on the shot clock.
“Brown’s length was able to contest him fairly well,” Marshall said. “We thought Brown was the best matchup. I thought McDuffie could guard him some. Landry could guard him. Those are the three guys we wanted on him them most part because of their length and ability to move their feet.”
Scott made 3 of 14 shots, 1 of 5 from three-point range. He got that three when Brown and Rashard Kelly mixed up an assignment and left him open.
▪ Bad: WSU’s defensive numbers slipped over the past three games and they are No. 23 in kenpom.com’s defensive efficiency ranking, allowing .926 points per possession. That’s an enviable number, but the Shockers had been in the top five earlier this season.
WSU has allowed more than 1.0 point per possession five times this season (scoring 1.02 puts a team in the middle of NCAA Division I; last season’s WSU team led kenpom.com’s ranking at .876), three times in its past three games against Oklahoma State, South Dakota State and Indiana State.
That number is tied to three-point shooting. Indiana State and SDSU both made 10 of 24 threes. OSU made 14 of 28. For the season, WSU is allowing teams to shoot 37.2 percent from the field, 32.9 from three. Those are good numbers and we’ll have to see if trend continues behind the arc.
On Wednesday, Brown saw it as the Sycamores making several tough shots.
“A lot of the shots they hit were very well-contested,” he said. “The two shots (Barnes) hit at the end, those are some big shots. Landry was in his face the whole time. Those are just big plays. Van Scyoc is a great three-point shooter. Laquarious Paige, we didn’t expect him to a hit one, but he did. You’ve just got to play the scout, at the end of the day.”
▪ Numbers guy says: Shamet’s efficient performance shouldn’t get overlooked and his offensive rating of 163 (a measure of individual offensive efficiency in which 110 is considered good). He scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, recorded four assists, and didn’t commit a turnover.
That is tied for WSU’s 12th-best offensive rating this season. Reaves’ 246 against Colorado State leads the way, although he played only 10 minutes. Frankamp recorded a 217 against LSU, when he scored eight points and had seven assists without a turnover in 24 minutes.
▪ On and on: WSU teammates scored 20-plus points for the first time since Fred VanVleet (25) and Darius Carter (22) vs. Notre Dame in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. … Willis recorded a season-high three assists. He had gone seven straight games without an assist. … WSU made 58.1 percent of its two-point shots. … McDuffie has scored in double figures in three straight games and is 13 of 22 from the field, 15 of 20 from the line in those games. … Shamet played 34 minutes to match his season high. Willis played 32 to surpass his previous high by two minutes. Brown played a career-high 32, four more than his previous mark.
▪ Next up: vs. Bradley (5-8), 1 p.m. Sunday (Cox 22, 2022)
The Braves open MVC play vs. Southern Illinois on Thursday at home.
Bradley owns four NCAA Division I wins, none over a team in the top 200 of the warrennolan.com RPI ranking.
Chief among its many issues is scoring. The Braves rank No. 214 nationally (according to kenpom.com) in effective field goal percentage at 48.9. It ends 20.6 percent of its possessions with turnovers, No. 260 nationally for protecting the ball.
Last season, Bradley totaled 35 baskets and 43 turnovers in two losses to Wichita State.