▪ Key statistics: WSU forced more turnovers than it allowed baskets for the fifth time this season.
Bradley went 21 of 52 from the field and committed 23 turnovers. The Shockers recorded a season-high 12 steals.
“Most teams pressure us because of how inexperienced we are,” Bradley coach Brian Wardle said. “I’d do the same thing. We’re just making poor decisions right now and a lot of them are controllable.”
In the past three meeting with Bradley, the Shockers gave up 56 baskets and forced 66 turnovers on their way to an average margin of victory of 31.6 points.
▪ How the game turned: Credit Daishon Smith for helping the Shockers burst to a 13-0 lead with some defensive energy. His steal set up a day full of them and led to a basket by Darral Willis for a 7-0 lead.
Smith assisted on three of WSU’s first five baskets and that snappy ball movement continued for a season-high 25 assists, the most of the Gregg Marshall era.
The first three minutes provided a microcosm of the whole game. Bradley, so worried about the scoring of Darral Willis, gave up open jumpers and the Shocker connected.
“There were times when you look at their defense and they have four guys with a foot in the paint,” Marshall said. “So it’s very difficult to get to the rim, to post-feed or drive the ball. You have to loosen them up a little bit.”
▪ Records: BU 6-9, 1-1 MVC; WSU 12-3, 2-0
▪ Rotation watch: The Smith and Conner Frankamp balance at point guard was productive again. Smith made both his three-pointers and recorded four steals. He also had three turnovers, which leads to Frankamp getting more minutes and he scored nine points in 21 minutes.
“We’re teaching (Smith) to do the tough things, get his hands out of his pockets and get some deflections,” Marshall said. “He’s super, super athletic and we just need him to continue to be a great defender, take care of the ball… but he’s coming along. He and Conner are very different, but they’re doing a great job of running the point for us.”
Frankamp made 3 of 5 shots, 2 of 4 threes and Marshall would like to see him take a few more shots.
“I love it when he’s aggressive,” Marshall said. “He passed on a couple of jumpers I thought he should have taken.”
▪ Somebody said this:
▪ Good: The Shockers put on a clinic for passing the ball and turning good shots into better shots. With the wealth of good shooters on this team, the ball will eventually find someone who is hot.
That equal-opportunity offense works well for winning, not so much for big stats. The Shockers accept those standards.
“You see it every day in practice, people not being selfish, making the extra pass,” WSU freshman Austin Reaves said. “Even after that, if they’re open, making a better pass to get an even more open shot. That’s something I’d seen even last year on the team (as a recruit) and that’s something that made me want to come here even more.”
It hasn’t escaped WSU’s notice that no Shocker has won an MVC weekly award.
“We share the minutes, we share the depth, we share the ball,” Marshall said. “In the end, these guys accept it. They don’t beef about being pulled. For instance, Zach Brown plays 18 minutes today. Darral Willis plays 19 minutes. He hasn’t won player of the week. He probably won’t win player of the year. But it’s hard for him to put up the numbers.”
▪ Bad: Teams continue to shoot well from three-point range against the Shockers. Bradley made 7 of 19 threes, the fourth consecutive game an opponent made 36 percent or better.
▪ Numbers guy says: WSU guard Landry Shamet completed his third consecutive strong offensive game. In those games he has 13 assists and three turnovers. He is 10 of 22 from three-point range and 8 of 12 inside the arc.
▪ And on and on: The Shockers scored 100 or more in two games (also Maryland Eastern Shore) for the first time since the 1987-88 season. Those Eddie Fogler Shockers defeated Bradley 116-92 and Indiana State 102-70 in back-to-back games.
▪ Next up: vs. Drake (3-11, 1-1), 7 p.m. Wednesday (Cox 22, 2022)
The Bulldogs started MVC play with a surprising win over Loyola, their second over an NCAA Division I opponent, before losing at Southern Illinois 83-69 on Sunday.
Drake gives up a lot of easy baskets and rarely blocks shots. SIU scored 46 points in the paint and out-rebounded Drake 43-31.
Guard Reed Timmer averages 16.2 points and is shooting 35.1 percent from three-point range.