▪ Key statistics: According to Wichita State’s shot chart, the Shockers made 10 layups in the first half. The Shockers made 12 in the second half.
WSU made 23 of 38 two-point shots. Its kenpom.com offensive efficiency rating of 1.26 points per possession is its fifth-highest score of the season.
The Shockers got all those shots at the rim through many methods, mostly good passing and fast breaks that beat SIU defenders to the lane, sometimes catching them napping.
SIU looked unorganized and tired at times, partially the result of the two rotation players who sat out due to eligibility concerns. WSU took advantage of long rebounds and turnovers to create some of those layups.
SIU switched to zone to combat foul trouble and WSUs layup line. The Shockers never faltered.
Early in the game, Rashard Kelly passed to a cutting Darral Willis for a layup. Then Willis hustled around a box-out to save a rebound to Markis McDuffie for a layup. Moments later, Willis spun around Austin Weiher, leaving Weiher grabbing at air, for a dunk.
That’s the way it went.
▪ How the game turned: SIU coach Barry Hinson said he liked the way his Salukis competed early. The weight of missed shots — and the Salukis missed often and missed badly — wore down that resolve. A 14-5 run gave the Shockers a 12-point lead, a span in which SIU missed nine of 10 shots.
▪ Records: SIU 11-11, 4-5 MVC, WSU 18-4, 8-1
▪ Rotation watch: Who is WSU’s top All-MVC candidate?
There is no easy answer here because of WSU’s depth and limited minutes. The Shockers won’t stand out in the stats leader — none rank among the top 15 of MVC scorers or top 10 of rebounders.
McDuffie’s MVC numbers will be tough to ignore. He averages 14.6 points and is shooting 56.4 percent, 48 percent from three-point range. His well-rounded game includes 5.3 rebounds and totals of 17 assists and 11 turnovers.
His kenpom.com numbers also speak to his MVC performances. He ranks second in offensive rating in MVC games, producing 1.33 points per possession. Teammate Landry Shamet is first at 1.43 and Conner Frankamp is fourth at 1.27.
For now, let’s call McDuffie WSU’s top All-MVC candidate and Shamet the leader for Freshman of the Year.
McDuffie’s improvement from his freshman season can be seen in three areas.
His driving ability is improved and the percentage of shots he takes at the rim is 47.5, up from 38.7 last season. His three-point shooting is up from 31.5 to 42.6 percent. Because of his driving, he is getting to the line more frequently than last season — 4.2 attempts a game compared to 2.2 last season.
“I’m much healthier now,” said McDuffie, who had knee surgery in August. “I’m just trying to take good shots. Knock down open threes. Finishing at the rim.”
▪ Somebody said this:
▪ Good: Freshman C.J. Keyser played nine minutes and guarded SIU’s Armon Fletcher some of them, most notably in the first half.
It’s a sign Keyser is doing good things in practice. Does WSU need an 11th rotation player? You never know. That coaches trust Keyser to play in that situation means something, even in a game in which WSU rolled.
Shout out to SIU’s throwback uniforms. Great look.
▪ Bad: 6 p.m. starts are hard on fans. We know TV rules, and serves a wider audience than that 10,506 who pack Koch Arena, but it’s tough on the people who pay big money to fight road construction, work and school to get to Koch Arena on time.
▪ Numbers guy says:
Wichita State’s biggest margins in MVC games.
WSU 105, North Texas State 58
WSU 85, Southern Illinois 42
WSU 78, Missouri State 35
WSU 103, West Texas State 61
WSU 87, Southern Illinois 45
▪ On and on: After trailing by 14 points at Illinois State and 13 at Evansville, the Shockers haven’t trailed in wins over Indiana State and SIU.… Frankamp is 16 of 35 (45.7 percent) from three-point range in MVC games.
▪ Next up: at Bradley, 3 p.m. Sunday (ESPNU)
The Braves (8-13, 3-5) play at Loyola on Wednesday.
WSU defeated Bradley 100-66 on Jan. 1. The Shockers forced 23 turnovers and held Bradley to 21 baskets.