Key statistics: The Shockers overwhelmed the Braves early on defense, limiting them to 6-of-21 shooting and forcing 12 turnovers in the first half.
WSU scored 17 points off turnovers in the first half, 10 on second-chance points and 22 in the lane.
How the game turned: WSU’s 10-0 run to start the game, highlighted by two dunks by Shaq Morris rattled the Braves and forced coach Brian Wardle to spend a timeout with 18:46 remaining. The Braves got no closer than seven points after that.
Records: BU 3-18, 1-7 MVC; WSU 14-5, 8-0
Stat that might surprise you: The Braves made a season-high 43.9 percent of their shots (18-41), passing 40 percent for the sixth time.
Stat that shouldn’t surprise you: WSU out-rebounded Bradley 39-24. In the first meeting, Bradley won that battle 31-28 to become the fourth team to out-rebound the Shockers.
“You know that was brought up a few times,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “I was not happy at all.”
Freshman watch: So many freshmen.
Bradley played nine freshmen. WSU played three.
WSU’s Markis McDuffie improved his home/road split with 10 points, his first double-figures game at Koch Arena and his first in Wichita since he scored 13 against Utah at Intrust Bank Arena.
In three previous MVC home games, he totaled 11 points.
Freshman guard Landry Shamet continues to rehab his left foot. He is doing some basketball drills, but not practicing. Before Saturday’s game, he joined several Shockers in ball-handling workouts. Shamet, who had surgery in late November to repair a stress fracture, remains on target for a mid-February return to practice, around which time he will decide if he wants to redshirt or play.
Why they’re All-Americans: Braves coach Brian Wardle admired the way the Shockers single-mindedly ran down his team. It would have been easy for the Shockers to float through the 40 minutes and still win easily. Wardle, in his first season at Bradley, wants his team to play that way.
“They came in and did what they needed to do against a young team like ours,” he said. “I respect them a great deal. I respect how hard Coach Marshall gets his guys to play. I don’t like to be out-toughed. I don’t like seeing it with my teams.”
WSU’s refusal to coast starts with Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Evan Wessel. Those three remember 2013, when the Shockers lost six MVC games.
“If me, Ron and the starting five go out there and set the tempo … set the tone early, it’s easy for the guys to follow,” VanVleet said. “If we were lackadaisical, I think they would follow suit, too.”
Rotation watch: Morris turned in another solid game with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
A week ago, it seemed as if Morris and Anton Grady shared the center position. With Morris’ performances the past two games, it feels more like he is the starter and Grady the backup. That change, in my mind, reflects Morris’ improvement more than any slippage by Grady.
Morris scored most of his points around the basket in the past two games, largely abandoning short jumpers. He is finishing strong, often dunking, and moving aggressively without the ball to catch passes close to the rim from VanVleet. That seems a better fit for the offense than Grady’s preferred jump shots. Morris shooting 58.8 percent from the field. Grady is shooting 44.9.
Those numbers make the case for Morris’ playing time to continue to rise, if he can avoid fouls and play with focus.
Grady scored eight points against Bradley, his most since he scored 17 against Evansville. We’ve seen Morris play inconsistently before and his minutes limit will top out around 20 no matter how well he plays, so there no doubt will be games in which Grady will need to shine.
Together, WSU enjoys the most post depth in the Valley.
▪ The Shockers held Bradley to 18 baskets and forced 20 turnovers, the 10th time in the past three seasons WSU created a negative basket-to-turnover ratio.
In the first meeting, Bradley made 17 baskets and committed 23 turnovers.
▪ The Shockers grabbed 14 steals, one shy of the Marshall-era best of 15 against Newman in 2011. WSU also recorded 14 against Evansville in 2014.
▪ No. 18 Butler lost twice. No. 20 Duke went 1-1 last week. No. 21 Southern Cal lost at Oregon and plays at Oregon State on Sunday. No. 24 South Carolina went 1-1.
Those results give the Shockers, who have won nine straight, a chance to move back into the Associated Press top 25 after falling out on Nov. 30. WSU entered the week with 38 points, behind Pittsburgh (184) and Clemson (53) in the others receiving votes category. Both went 1-1 last week.
WSU is farther away in the coaches poll, trailing four teams and tied with Valparaiso outside the top 25.
A few years ago, a national ranking might have impressed Marshall. He expressed no excitement for the prospect on Saturday.
“It doesn’t matter,” Marshall said. “I don’t think it has any bearing on when you get in the tournament, where you’re seeded. I don’t think they even consider that. It gives more incentive for others teams to beat you … when you have a number by your name.”
▪ WSU won its 13th straight game against Bradley. That streak ties Illinois State’s streak against Indiana State (1993-99) for the fourth-longest against a conference opponent by current MVC members. Southern Illinois’ 17-game streak over Drake (2000-08) is the record.
Next up: vs. Loyola, 8 p.m. Wednesday (CBS Sports Network)
The Ramblers (9-11, 2-6) have won two of three. They defeated Drake 68-63 on Saturday with Montel James scoring 17 points.
Loyola guard Milton Doyle is emerging from a funk after scoring 13 points and reaching double figures for a third consecutive game. He is 16 of 28 from the field and averaging 13 points in those games, all coming off the bench. He started 16 of Loyola’s first 17 games.