▪ Wichita State played a role in unleashing Klint Carlson on the MVC last season. He made 5 of 8 shots and scored 12 points in 23 minutes in last season’s win at Koch Arena.
That breakout set the stage for the MVC and NCAA Tournaments. He scored 17 in the MVC title game vs. Evansville. He scored 11 against Texas and 17 against Texas A&M. With UNI losing three key players from that team, it appeared Carlson was ready to step into a bigger role and help the Panthers move from a guard-oriented attack to one that featured Carlson and Bennett Koch.
It hasn’t happened that way and the Panthers are 0-3 in the MVC, 5-9 overall.
Carlson averages 7.4 points and has one double-figures scoring game in his past nine. He played 15 minutes at Loyola and missed his lone shot.
“By nature, he’s not an offensive guy,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. “He’d like to be a guy that’s passing the basketball, finding teammates. The thing for Klint is seeing if we can get him a little more comfortable. For our team, right now, we need him to take that step.”
Koch averages 8.2 points, although his scoring is increasing in recent games. He scored 10 at North Carolina and 16 vs. Missouri State before nine in his past two games.
In those four games, he is 15 of 28 from the floor.
▪ If you feel more uneasy than normal at the prospect of facing an 0-3 MVC, it’s warranted.
The Panthers are the other MVC teams that’s demonstrated the ability to beat the Shockers (two of three last season), win consistently over the 18-game schedule (as they did in 2014-15) and win NCAA games (as they did in 2015 and 2016).
While UNI is struggling, it is the kind of program that always appears capable of turning it around. It is 16 of 58 from three-point range (27.6 percent) in MVC games. That’s the kind of stat that can turn quickly and the Shockers don’t want to be the team that gets the Panthers confident. A team that’s losing by making 3 of 20 threes can look much different if it makes 8 of 20.
UNI lost its MVC opener to Missouri State 68-64 at home. Then it went on the road for losses to Evansville and Loyola. While 0-3 is shocking, those losses individually aren’t totally unexpected.
▪ UNI has scored significantly better in the second half of its MVC games. Against Loyola, it made 47.1 percent of its shots and scored 40 points in athe second half of a 77-66 loss.
Freshman forward Luke McDonnell came off the bench to scored eight points in 17 second-half minutes to help that second-half production.
Guard play is much different for UNI after the loss of Wes Washpun and others. The Panthers don’t appear to get as much off dribble drives and Jeremy Morgan handles the ball often.
Wyatt Lohaus, a junior, is out with an ankle injury.
Wichita State at Northern Iowa
- When: 3 p.m. Sunday
- Where: McLeod Center, Cedar Falls, Iowa
- Records: WSU 13-3, 3-0 MVC; UNI 5-9, 0-3
- Radio: KEYN, 103.7-FM
- TV: ESPNU
Wichita State at Northern Iowa
Wichita State (13-3, 3-0 MVC): The Shocker rank first in the MVC with a plus-22.3 scoring margin after playing Indiana State, Drake and Bradley, who are a combined 16-30, 3-6 in the MVC. … WSU leads the MVC in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.4. Shamet (3.4) ranks first and Smith (1.9) is eighth. Shamet is No. 14 nationally and is one of three freshmen with a ratio of 3.0 or better, joining Louisiana Tech’s Daquan Bracey (3.95) and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball 3.46). …WSU is 5-5 at McLeod Center, the only MVC school without a losing record.
Northern Iowa (5-9, 0-3): UNI’s five-game losing streak is its longest since the 2006-07 season. It endured a 10-game skid in 2000-01. This is UNI’s first 0-3 MVC start since it went 0-7 in 2000-01 under coach Sam Weaver. … Morgan is the lone Panther to start every game. … Ashton is shooting 44.4 percent from three-point range and is 5 for 10 in MVC games. … Freshman G Juwan McCloud came off the bench to score 16 points and grab four rebounds at Loyola. McCloud started 12 games and averages 4.9 points.… The Panthers won two of three games vs. WSU last season and lead the series 28-26.
RPI rank as of Saturday: WSU 93, UNI 153