▪ Key statistics: The Shockers scored easily all night, building a 15-0 edge in points off turnovers and 18-5 on second-chance points. Wichita State made 13 of 23 three-pointers and Evansville, which shot 61.9 percent in the second half, had no chance to keep up.
▪ How the game turned: Back to back three-pointers by Landry Shamet keyed a 10-0 run early in the game.
▪ Records: UE 14-16, 5-12 MVC; WSU 26-4, 16-1
▪ Rotation watch: The first time I talked to J.R. Simon was through an assist by Shaq Morris. Simon had recently decided to walk on at WSU and Morris, his friend, conferenced me on his cell phone with Simon so I could get the details.
So it was fitting that Morris got Simon started on his big night with an assist on a three-pointer. Morris gave Simon a push toward contacting WSU when both were seniors in high school in Oklahoma City.
The two met during seventh grade and remained friends, although they attended different high schools. Simon has family in Wichita, so he knew all about the Shockers. When Morris committed to WSU, he predicted Simon would join him.
“I was like ‘OK, Shaq,’” Simon said. “You know how you think he just says stuff.”
Morris talked to a WSU assistant coach and encouraged Simon to call. Simon sent WSU film and met with coach Gregg Marshall.
“I don’t know if I’d be here if he wouldn’t have kind of put the word out there that (I) would be someone good to be here,” Simon said. “Credit to Shaq.”
Tuesday belonged to Simon and Zach Bush, WSU’s seniors. There aren’t many Shockers part of more big wins than those two.
▪ More depth seems like a luxury for the Shockers.
Freshman C.J. Keyser is earning minutes here and there with his practice play. On Monday, he excelled playing the role of Evansville guard Jaylon Brown for the scout team. Sometimes his potential hasn’t translated to games, but Keyser is a player who will help the Shockers significantly in the future.
▪ Somebody said this:
▪ Good: Three turnovers is WSU’s low for the season, a number the 2015-16 team reached three times.
▪ Bad: The Aces made 13 of 21 shots in the second half and freshman guard Dru Smith made 5 of 7 three-pointers and scored a career-high 19 points. On a normal night, Marshall would have expressed concern.
▪ Numbers guy says: The Shocker dialed up their best offensive performance of the season by one measurement. WSU averaged 1.55 points per possession, according to kenpom.com, its best since a 1.51 against Maryland Eastern Shore on Nov. 20.
▪ On and on: While the Shockers set a school record with 263 three-pointers this season, there is work to do before cracking the MVC list. Bradley holds the Valley record with 349 in 2006-07. Next up for the Shockers is Creighton at No. 16 with 274 in 2007-08.
Shamet has 59 threes. Missouri State’s Adam Leonard holds the MVC mark for threes by a first-year player with 103 in 2009-10. Shamet is four from matching Kyle Korver, Ryan Sears, Trey Guidry and Sean Stackhouse, tied for 19th on the Valley list.
▪ Next up: at Missouri State (16-13, 7-9), 11 a.m. Friday (ESPN2) — The Bears play at Bradley on Wednesday and can still fall into the No. 7 seed, which should be all the motivation they need.
Close losses killed MSU this season — five in MVC play by three or fewer points. Outside of WSU and Illinois State, this is the Valley’s most physcially talented team. Outside of Northern Iowa, it’s the biggest mystery in the MVC.