▪ Key statistics: The Shockers expected Northern Iowa to double-team centers. UNI did not until late in the game, out of respect for WSU’s shooters.
That allowed Rauno Nurger to make 6 of 7 shots, mostly against single coverage. The Shockers made 11 of 20 three-pointers, so they defeated UNI’s strategy of forcing jump shots.
WSU ranks first in the Missouri Valley Conference in offensive efficiency at 1.22 points per possession in conference games. If you can’t double Nurger, Darral Willis and Shaq Morris because of Landry Shamet, Conner Frankamp, Daishon Smith, Austin Reaves and Zach Brown — that’s a tough decision for defenses.
“When they started double-teaming us, we kicked it out to Conner one time and one time to Landry,” Nurger said. “They made the three-point shots right after the pass and (UNI) was right out of it.”
▪ How the game turned: Three three-pointers by WSU in the second half answered UNI points.
Shamet’s gave WSU a 58-50 lead. A three by Frankamp made it 63-52. Nurger’s three gave the Shockers a 68-55 lead with 5:44 to play.
▪ Records: UNI 5-10, 0-4 MVC; WSU 14-3, 4-0
▪ Rotation watch: The Smith-Frankamp pairing at point guard combined for five assists, one turnover and 17 points.
Frankamp did most of the scoring — 11 points — and coach Gregg Marshall praised his assertiveness. Frankamp ended the first half by making UNI pay for a turnover. His three on a fast break gave WSU a 39-32 lead. In the second half, he drove for a jumper and made two more threes.
“I like Conner being aggressive,” Marshall said.
▪ Somebody said this:
▪ Good: The Shockers converted 11 Panther turnovers into 20 points. UNI doesn’t turn the ball over often, so the Shockers took advantage of those mistakes. UNI helped by handing the Shockers two layups on giveaways that were, to a large extent, unforced. Brown got the Shockers another easy one with a steal and dunk.
“Those are big,” Marshall said. “Those add up.”
The Shockers are 4-0 on the road this season without a senior playing a major role. I don’t expect UNI to duplicate last season’s strong finish to MVC play, but the Panthers are going to get better. It won’t suprise me if this ends up being a win that other MVC contenders don’t get.
▪ Bad: Morris had a history of success against the Panthers, making 14 of 18 shots in five previous games for an average of 6.6 points. On Sunday, fouls limited him to seven minutes and he scored two points.
▪ Numbers guy says: Saturday’s game at Illinois State is projected by Ken Pomeroy as a 53-percent win probability for WSU. That’s the only remaining game under 70 percent.
▪ On and on: WSU has won two in a row at Northern Iowa for the third time (also 1994 and 1996 and 2011 and 2012) in the series. It’s never won three straight. … The Shockers are shooting 38.1 percent from three-point range. The best of the Marshall era is 37.1 in 2011-12. They are shooting 73.2 percent from the foul line, which would tie for the program’s fifth-best accuracy.
▪ Next up: vs. Loyola, 6 p.m. Wednesday (Cox 22, 2022)