Key statistics: Wichita State made a season-high 59.1 percent of its shots and scored 1.3 points per possession to total its second-best offensive performance of the season, according to kenpom.com (the best was an 88-54 win over Bradley).
In other words, the Shockers dunked 10 times and scored 50 points in the paint. WSU’s top two paint-scoring games this season are both against the Bears, 50 and 46.
According to WSU’s shot chart, the Shockers made 9 of 10 layups/dunks in the first half and 6 of 11 other shots within a few feet of the rim.
The Bears didn’t put up much resistance. As WSU coach Gregg Marshall pointed out, they also went hard to the offensive boards, which left them vulnerable to breaks.
How the game turned: WSU’s big men took over offensively and defensively for the decisive run.
The Bears played zone and the Shockers handled it with precision. Anton Grady made a 15-foot jumper. Rashard Kelly spun past a defender for a basket. Kelly’s high-low pass to Shaq Morris produced a three-point play and a 25-14 lead.
Morris’ steal led to a dunk for Zach Brown and forced a Bears timeout. Another deflection by Morris led to a steal and a three for Brown and a 32-16 lead an another timeout.
Morris finished a fine defensive sequence by helping and forcing MSU guard Dequon Miller to travel.
The crowd, the Shockers, the everything overwhelmed the Bears, as coach Paul Lusk admitted.
“Dequon, at times, was just out there on an island by himself,” Lusk said. “Guys got to want to get catches, got to want to help him. They’re young and they’ve never been in that setting before.”
Records: MSU 11-16, 7-8 MVC; WSU 20-7, 13-2
Stat that shouldn’t surprise you: WSU out-rebounded MSU for the 12th straight time. The Bears, however, cut the margin from 16, 18 and 21 the past three meetings to minus-three.
Stat that might surprise you: Shaq Morris. No fouls. More on that later.
Freshman watch: Markis McDuffie played 13 solid minutes and helped the first-half rout get started. He scored five of his eight points and grabbed four of his five rebounds in eight first-half minutes.
In two games against the Bears, he is 11 of 13 from the field with 14 rebounds.
Rotation watch: Rashard Kelly continued a series of solid games with a career-high 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, a career-high four assists and a career-high three steals. He played 21 minutes, most since 26 at Tulsa in November.
Kelly’s previous career high was 12 points at Hawaii. His season high was 11 against Loyola.
Kelly’s gone through some turnover problems this season, including a stretch of seven in four games in late January/early February. He has two in the past five games.
▪ No fouls for Morris in 17 minutes.
Ron Baker expects that to highlight Friday’s film session.
“That’s probably the first thing we’ll talk about,” he said. “That’s big. I bet that will probably never happen again.”
Morris, a few minutes later, settled into a chair in the Koch Arena interview room after waiting patiently. He looked at the zero on the stat sheet and nodded his head.
“It means we’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “I was really happy.”
WSU played its triple-X defense a lot, which puts the Shockers in the passing lanes to deny and deflect. Morris produced two early turnovers by batting away passes and he likes that better than playing behind his man.
“Instead of giving a ref a chance to even call a foul, I’m trying to deny the ball in the post,” he said.
Morris played solid defense, grabbed a career-high eight rebounds and scored seven points. He had committed three or more fouls in seven straight previous games.
“It feels awesome being able to be effective on the defensive end and make the team better without fouling,” he said.
Next up: at Indiana State (13-14, 7-8 MVC), 3 p.m. Sunday (ESPNU)
The Sycamores are fading, largely because of defensive issues. They’ve allowed three of their past four opponents to shoot 50 percent or better on two-point shots and lost all four games.