WICHITA – All-American point guard Fred VanVleet dropped a career-high 29 points, Sunday afternoon, helping Wichita State record its seventh-straight win with an 82-62 rout of Indiana State at Charles Koch Arena.
Seniors VanVleet and Ron Baker combined to score 47 of WSU’s 82 points.
Beyond a half-dozen missed shots, VanVleet (9-of-15 from the field, 3-of-4 from three-point range and 8-of-8 at the line) was nearly flawless, dishing out five assists without a turnover, while recording three steals (his eight-consecutive multi-steal game).
Baker finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists on 4-of-6 from the field and 7-for-7 from the line.
In knocking off the Sycamores for a seventh-straight time, WSU (12-5, 6-0 Missouri Valley Conference) maintained its one-game lead over Southern Illinois and Evansville and now has victories in hand over each of its three closest challengers.
Neither team shot especially well. The Shockers finished the day at 41-percent from the field and converted just 6-of-22 attempts from downtown. ISU (10-8, 4-2 MVC) shot 35-percent, including 6-of-21 from three.
WSU forced 16 turnovers, while committing only five and outrebounded the Sycamores 38-35. The Shockers connected on 82.4 percent (28-of-34) of their foul shots and outscored ISU 28-18 at the line.
Brenton Scott led ISU with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go with five rebounds. Scott was also 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Devonte Brown added 14 points, three rebounds and three assists.
A 6-2 spurt out of halftime stretched WSU’s lead to nine, 41-32, forcing an ISU timeout not even two minutes into the second half. The lead then grew to 14 following a three-point play from Zach Brownwith just under 15 minutes to play.
At the eight-minute mark, VanVleet knocked down his third three-pointer of the game to give WSU a 64-47 lead. His trey capped off a 9-0 run after the Sycamores had trimmed the lead to eight. The Shockers’ lead would by as many as 22 in the second half.
Wichita State opened the game by scoring the first six points, only to see Indiana State respond to score the next seven to take a 7-6 lead into the first media timeout of the game. VanVleet came out of the timeout on a mission, as he scored eight straight points for WSU to put the Shockers up 14-10 with 12:50 remaining.
Late in the first half, the Shockers put together a 9-0 run to erase an 18-16 Indiana State lead, giving WSU its largest margin of the half, 25-18. The Sycamores seemingly always had an answer for the Shockers throughout the first 20 minutes. An Evan Wessel tip-in with 33 seconds left put Wichita State in front 35-30 at halftime.
The first act featured some entertaining highlights from VanVleet and Indiana State’s Brenton Scott, as the two combined for 34 points. VanVleet led all scorers with 18 first half points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Scott poured in 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc.
Baker added nine points, five boards and a pair of assists for the Shockers.
As a team, Wichita State shot just 35 percent from the field, while connecting on just 3-of-11 attempts from three-point range. The Sycamores shot 44 percent in the first half and were 4-of-8 from deep.
WSU forced 10 Indiana State turnovers and capitalized by turning those into 10 points on the other end.
* WSU held the lead at halftime for the 11th-straight game and for the 15th-consecutive home game.
* The Shockers upped their school-record home winning streak to 40-games and upped their MVC home winning streak to 21 – four wins shy of the school record.
* WSU improved to 33-8 all-time against the Sycamores in Wichita.
WSU travels to Cedar Falls, Iowa, for a matchup with Northern Iowa on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. on Cox Channel Kansas.
GREGG MARSHALL ON…
…His overall impressions from Sunday’s win
“We played very well tonight. To beat that team in that fashion took a very good effort, especially in the second half. I thought this game was going to be a one or two possession game down the stretch all week. They had been playing well, and I was impressed. But tonight, Fred led the way, and we had a lot of good performances. Ron Baker was spectacular in every phase, and Kelly and Brown really contributed tonight. I was pleased with our team effort.”
… Building up the lead in the second half
“We took it one play at a time. I thought we were very handsy — our assist to turnover was 10-5 compared to their 8-6 — and that was instrumental I thought. They turned it over 16 times, we only turned it over 5 and we ran the court pretty well with some and-ones and transitions. Fred was just finding people all over the place and — every once in a while, because guys were running the lanes — he was able to wind his way through and get to the rim, as well.”
…Defensive strength bolstering their success
“[Our players] embrace the concept, and they understand that’s a big reason we’re successful. You’d have to ask them about the affection for the hard work that goes into defending every possession. It is hard work, but there are enough guys that have been here long enough to see the benefits and the fruits of their labor. That’s something they enjoy.”
…Fred’s continued improvement after injury
“He looked pretty explosive to me. He looked like the old Fred. He was able to weave his way through traffic a couple times, and he was actually finishing. Maybe he’s getting more healthy I don’t know, but he’s out there practicing every day. If that’s the case, I’m glad to see it.”
…Rashard Kelly‘s night
“He was very active, he was rebounding. He had seven rebounds in fifteen minutes and a big follow dunk. I wish he would made a couple more free throws, but his defense was pretty good. He was running the court in transition, and he was just active and energetic.”
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SENIOR, RON BAKER ON…
…Playing in Charles Koch Arena over the years
“I feel confident when I play in this arena. Obviously, the crowd knows the game really well. They’re fun to play for. It’s always nice to have their noise and support when we’re pushing a lead, or if a team is chomping at the bit and knocking our lead down. Also, I feel like I sometimes get a little too comfortable when I play here. For whatever reason, the crowd is cheering and [I] get a little relaxed because [I] think that nothing could go wrong.”
…The “process” of defending well
“We’re an older group of guys, so we know the importance of defense. Sometimes we realize that we may not be shooting the ball as well as we want to. But sometimes defense creates our offense, and tonight there were a lot of transition breaks we had that were caused by our defensive efforts. Any time we can get those easy baskets in transition…we realize this year that they will come from defense, and that’s why we put so much effort into it.”
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SENIOR, EVAN WESSEL ON…
…Playing in Charles Koch Arena
“We practice here everyday, we’re used to playing in the arena. Then when you add the fans that we have, I mean we sell out every game. They’re behind us every game and get us to play better, like Ron said. Whether we’re up or down, the fans really get into it, and we appreciate and feed off that and really enjoy it.”
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SENIOR, FRED VANVLEET ON…
…His knack for reading defenses and making good decisions
“I think I just try to have the same level of aggressiveness all the time, whether I’m shooting the ball or not, I try to stay in attack mode and get in the paint. I think I got in transition early [tonight], Ron threw me [a good pass] and I got a layup. As we kept pushing it and pushing it, I don’t think their rotation was very deep…those guys started wearing down, so instead of it being five-on-five it was five-on-three, five-on-two and so on in transition. I just tried to pick my spots and get to the rim, and got to the foul line a couple times. That always seems to loosen up a defense.”
…The current pulse of the team
“We’re making progress. We come in each day and try to find something to get better at. I think we’re still trying to even it out…at SIU you saw our offensive firepower with the way we shot the ball, and then at Missouri State we shoot it terribly. It’s been up-and-down, but [we’ll be fine] as long as our defense and rebounding stays consistent. We’re finding our groove offensively. I think our rotations are starting to get a bit more firm with the way coach is substituting and where guys are finding their spots…getting in rhythm. It’s been a process with the injuries, Conner [Frankamp] not playing the first couple games, the freshmen because you don’t know what you’ll get with them. I think we’ve been consistently tough and guarding the ball the way we need to in order to give us a chance to win.”