Key statistics: Missouri State became the fourth WSU opponent to finish with more turnovers (16) than baskets (13), joining New Mexico State, Memphis and Drake (Saint Louis had 15 of each). The Bears are short-handed and it wasn’t a fair fight, but the game had to be played and the Shockers cared enough to play hard on defense.
Records: MSU 9-15, 3-9 MVC; WSU 21-3, 11-1
How the game turned: The Bears didn’t score in the final 4:51 of the first half, allowing the Shockers to expand their lead from 26-13 to 37-13.
Stat that shouldn’t surprise you: WSU guard Fred VanVleet handed out a career-high 11 assists, part of his triple-double, with no turnovers. It is his third 10-plus-assist game and the second without a turnover, matching last season’s output against Illinois State at Koch Arena.
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Stat that might surprise you: VanVleet grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds and while Ron Baker teased him about going David Lee to grab some cheap ones, it’s a good way to highlight an important part of VanVleet’s game. He averages almost four rebounds a game over the past two seasons and reached his previous career-high of eight three times. Rebounding isn’t where he makes his money, but he does it quite well for a guard.
Next up: vs. Indiana State, 7 p.m., Wednesday (Cox 22)
▪ ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla tweeted out his amazement and approval to see Wichita State pitting starters vs. starters in practices leading up to Saturday’s game. It’s not unheard of around college basketball, but it’s rare enough that Fraschilla commented on it and the Shockers credited recent practices with sharpening their games.
After a 16-point loss at Northern Iowa and a three-point win at lowly Bradley, coaches wanted to see a different attitude.
“The big key today was get our swag back,” WSU center Shaq Morris said. “I feel like putting these last two practices togther really helped us do that. We pretty much brought the energy that we’ve been lacking.”
That means VanVleet guarding Baker, and vice versa, in practices and so on. Starters don’t get to pound on deep reserves. Tekele Cotton has to run against Evan Wessel.
“These past three days have been some of our best-played basketball as far as practicing,” Baker said. “We’ve just been competing really hard. There hasn’t been a lot of scout guarding scout team. We compete at a very high level, and it’s helping us be a better team.”
▪ VanVleet joins an exclusive list of Shockers with his triple-double. Center Gene Wiley did it four times in 1961 and 1962 with points, rebounds and blocks. Forward Dave Stallworth had one in 1965 with points, rebounds and assists. Guard Warren Armstrong recorded four from 1965 to 1986 and center Terry Benton had the most recent — 20 points, 22 rebounds and 10 assists, vs. Tulsa in 1972. Armstrong has the most assists — 12 — in a triple-double and he did that twice.
MVC records list 37 players with triple-doubles, although I can’t be sure that list is comprehensive considering all the teams coming and going and the relatively new status of the triple-double as a big deal.
Evansville’s Troy Taylor had the most recent one, 10, 10 and 10 vs. Creighton in 2012. Oscar Robertson posted 10. Larry Bird had five.
Director of operations Dominic Okon keeps track of stats on the bench and he informed coach Gregg Marshall with around 16 minutes to play that VanVleet needed five points.
“I guess he told Fred, too, because the next two times he touched it he got five points,” Marshall said.