▪ Key statistics: Wichita State held the Ramblers to 25-percent shooting ( 5 of 20) from three-point range, matching Loyola’s season-low for makes behind the arch. The 25-percent accuracy is Loyola’s worst since it made 6 of 27 (22.2 percent) against Saint Joseph’s on Nov. 18.
▪ How the game turned: The Ramblers cut WSU’s lead from 13 points to eight after Landry Shamet’s third foul and his removal from the game. Conner Frankamp came out and the Ramblers cut it to seven.
Their pressure defense bothered the Shockers with their top guards on the bench briefly. Shamet returned with 9:42 to play and Frankamp soon after. The Shockers pushed the lead to double digits quickly.
Frankamp’s three-pointer gave them a 68-54 lead with 5:55 to play and the Ramblers got no closer.
▪ Records: WSU 23-4, 13-1 MVC; LU 16-11, 6-8
▪ Rotation watch: Since Jan. 17, WSU forward Rashard Kelly is playing some of his best basketball away from Koch Arena. When coach Gregg Marshall goes to his bench for Kelly, he knows he is going to get production over the past month.
Kelly played seven minutes in the loss at Illinois State on Jan. 14 and didn’t score. In the next eight games, he is 17 for 23 from the field with 45 rebounds to average 5.8 points and 5.6 rebounds. On Sunday, he made all four of his shots and finished with 11 points and six rebounds. In his past three road games he is 12 of 15 from the field.
Scoring big isn’t Kelly’s role. Scoring when the opportunity presents itself is. He is mostly assigned to defense and rebounding and he made a play in the second half that describes his value. The Ramblers ran a play where two big men come to the corners of the foul line (a set referred to as “horns”). Kelly saw the play coming and moved around his man to steal a soft pass.
“He pays attention,” Marshall said.
Kelly credited assistant coach Kyle Lindsted’s scouting report with diagnosing that play.
“We’ll spend two or three days on opposing teams before the time we play them,” Kelly said. “We simulate every play like they’re running an offense. I was just used to it, like it was in practice.”
▪ Somebody said this:
▪ Good: WSU held the Ramblers to a season-low 34.5-percent shooting percentage, a season-low 39.5-percent shooting on two-point shots and a season-low 38.8 effective field goal percentage.
The Ramblers can give teams trouble because of their shooting and small-ball lineups. Once the Shockers stopped forward Aundre Jackson in the second half, Loyola’s offense halted.
▪ Bad: MVC play has been tough on Darral Willis and Daishon Smith, WSU’s junior-college transfers. They’ve lost minutes to more experienced Shockers.
Sunday was a bad matchup for Willis, who would have been asked to guard Jackson, or other perimeter players, which is not his strong suit. Shaq Morris and Rauno Nurger were also better choices to handle Loyola’s double-teams in the post, and those two had issues.
Sunday’s game featured one of Marshall’s tightest rotations of the season with eight players playing 11 or more minutes. WSU is increasingly leaning on Shamet and Frankamp to play 30-plus minutes in the backcourt. Morris is playing more minutes as he continues to avoid foul trouble.
▪ On and on: Shamet went 1 for 3 from three-point range to tie Randy Burns for the freshman (2001-02) streak of threes in 16 straight games. WSU’s record is 27 by Ron Baker in 2014-15. Shamet is 49 of 118 behind the three-point arc. Frankamp is 49 of 117.
▪ Next up: at Southern Illinois (14-13, 7-7), 6 p.m. Wednesday (Cox 2022) — The Salukis dropped their past two, including Saturday’s home loss to last-place Evansville 75-70. That’s a game a team can’t lose if if wants to finish in the upper half of the MVC.
The Aces shot 54 percent from the field, which is more concerning to SIU than its scoring problems.
“I’d love to talk about defense, but I can’t because we didn’t play any,” SIU coach Barry Hinson told reporters after the game. “We didn’t play a lick of defense today. It’s the only thing we’ve done good here over the recent games.”
WSU defeated the Salukis 87-45 on Jan. 24. SIU was short-handed in that game after sitting Leo Vincent and Sean Lloyd during a brief academic investigation. Both returned for SIU’s next game.