Score: No. 3 Notre Dame 81, No. 7 Wichita State 70
Key statistics: The Irish made 18 of 24 shots in the second half. The Shockers needed Notre Dame vs. Butler to show up. Instead, they got the Notre Dame who played eight minutes of beautiful basketball against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament. The Irish made 14 of 24 shots against the Tar Hells in the second half of that game and won 90-82 with a 24-2 run late in the game. The Irish did those things to a lot of good teams.
Up next: Not sure.
▪ This is going to be short because I can’t imagine there isn’t much that hasn’t already been covered (past, present or future) in recent days at Kansas.com or in the pages of your Wichita Eagle. Plus, there’s not much point in looking ahead until we know more about the cast.
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▪ Fred VanVleet scored 27 points against Indiana, fifth by a Shocker in an NCAA game, and 25 against Notre Dame, tied for sixth with Cliff Levingston (Iowa, 1981). He scored 23 of his 71 NCAA points at the line and made 22 of 50 shots and 2 of 9 three-pointers. He is one of six Shockers to score 20 or more points in two NCAA games. Cleanthony Early did it three times.
With 113 career NCAA points, VanVleet ranks fourth among all Shockers behind Early (135), Ron Baker (118) and Kelly Pete (116).
Baker made 4 of 16 three-pointers and 10 of 33 shots in the three games. He covered his poor shooting with free throws (9 of 10) against Indiana, but wasn’t as productive against Notre Dame, missing 8 of 10 shots. Over his last 10 games, he made 18 of 59 threes (30.5 percent).
Those two had to carry an over-sized burden on offense this season, with Darius Carter often in foul trouble and limited options elsewhere, all while playing 30-plus minutes and taking lead roles on defense. WSU’s bench was outscored 600-578 this season and bench players combined for seven double-figures scoring games all season. Shaq Morris scored 17 at Southern Illinois, the only time a bench player led the Shockers.
▪ Tekele Cotton ends his career first at WSU with 141 games and 121 wins in which he played. He ranks fourth with 156 career steals, 18th with 276 assists, tied for 18th with 108 three-pointers and 14th with 315 three-point attempts.
Cotton has 1,047 points, 38th on WSU’s career list.
▪ VanVleet padded his career lead with three assists against Notre Dame and he has 465. Should he return for his senior season, he can put that number past 600. Bradley’s Anthony Manuel has 855 assists to lead the MVC. Pushing past 600 would probably put VanVleet into the top five.
VanVleet handed out 183 assists this season, fourth on WSU’s single-season career list. His 193 last season ranks second behind Warren Armstrong’s 194 in 1968.
VanVleet led the MVC in assists (5.2) to become the first Shocker to lead the conference in consecutive seasons. He ranks seventh nationally with a 3.10 assist-to-turnover ratio.
VanVleet has 1,060 career points, No. 37 on WSU’s list.
▪ Baker finishes his junior season with 1,145 points to rank No. 29 on WSU’s career list. He ranks fifth with 178 threes and sixth with 472 attempts. His 232 assists rank 29th.
Baker’s 80 threes rank second on WSU’s single-season list behind Sean Ogirri’s 91 in 2005-06. Baker attempted 209, most in a season by any Shocker.
▪ Shaq Morris made 54.5 percent of his shots (61 of 112), the second-best accuracy by a Shocker freshman. Cliff Levingston made 189 of 346 (54.6) in 1979-80.
▪ Post-season has been kind to the MVC. The Valley is 10-3 in post-season play with Loyola (CBI) and Evansville (CIT) still playing. Loyola plays Louisian-Monroe in the best-of-3 championship series. Evansvillle plays Tennesee-Martin in the CIT semifinals on Tuesday.
▪ Bradley filled the MVC’s lone coaching opening (so far) with Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Brian Wardle. That’s an important hire for the strength of the MVC.
▪ One of the interesting sidelights of the two weeks traveling to NCAA sites was the positive reception banter about UAB as a possible MVC member received. Conference and school officials are generally high on the potential of that school. The Blazers, coached by former Kansas guard Jerod Haase, upset Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament.
People like the basketball tradition at UAB and the support from the athletic department. Adding UAB would likely mean adding another member to get to 12.
Any move first depends on UAB resolving its football issue. The school dropped football last December, which would seem to mean its days as a member of Conference USA are done. However, the school isn’t sure if that decision is final.