Key statistics: All five Shocker starters reached double figures and WSU made 46.2 percent of its shots against a team that entered the game allowing opponents to shoot 39.5 percent. Only Wisconsin (46.7) shot better against the Billikens this season. WSU also made 17 of 19 free throws, allowing it to overcome 18 turnovers.
How the game turned: Cleanthony Early made two three-pointers in the final four minutes, the second putting WSU up 63-61. While Saint Louis tied the game, the Shockers never again trailed. WSU finished it off by holding the Billikens to two free throws in the final two minutes.
- Sunday’s win capped off an excellent week for the Shockers, who picked up two good wins away from home. I’m definitely buying BYU as an NCAA Tournament team. I’ll wait and see on Saint Louis, which should be in the NCAA picture and won’t lose many home games. Its lack of scoring and depth may keep it from being an NCAA Tournament team.
- WSU is 2-0 on the road, more road wins than any team ranked above it in last week’s Associated Press top 25. Those 11 schools combined for a 4-0 road record and none played more than one road game. In a best-case scenario, Saint Louis does well in the Atlantic 10 and gives WSU a top-50 RPI road non-conference win (similar to VCU last season) that separates WSU’s resume from many others come selection Sunday. Only three of the 11 (Kansas, Ohio State and Wisconsin) have matched WSU with four games away from the home arena and only Ohio State and Wisconsin have played a road game in that number.
- WSU trailed 16-10 with Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet doing all of the scoring when Chadrack Lufile scored. He scored again on a short hook shot to tie it 16-all. WSU needs inside scoring and Lufile, after missing an early layup, made 5 of 7 shots. He made some nice moves, showing good patience and footwork, and he made the gimmes. Most important, he rebounded (eight in 26 minutes). WSU coach Gregg Marshall gets nervous when Lufile makes too many moves, but it worked out on Sunday. “I’m so proud of him,” Marshall said. “It certainly was his day. He had a move there that I had never seen. I’m not sure that I like the move because I hadn’t seen it. I’ll take it right now.” Marshall wasn’t quite sure how to describe Lufile’s footwork and fakes. “We teach a Sikma move,” he said. “We also teach a McHale. We also teach a Jamison, where they catch it real quick and get it on the square. I think was a combination of three or four different guys, maybe some Akeem “The Dream” Olajuwon.”
- Lufile said he is working with assistant coach Chris Jans on the jab step and using more fakes. “The first jab step is something to see what my defender is going to do,” Lufile said. “If he moves, and I think I can go again, I’m going to jab him again. If he doesn’t move, I’m going to left, toward the middle, whether I’m either going to get fouled or get a bucket.”
- Before Ron Baker, the previous Shocker to score 20-plus in four straight games was Garrett Stutz in 2012. He scored 23 (Evansville), 27 (at Drake), 25 (at Missouri State) and 24 (Indiana State).
- Since basketball seems to come too easily for Baker, let’s throw him a tough goal. No Shocker has ever gone 50-40-90 (known in the NBA as a the Steve Nash Club for awesome shooters). That’s 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the line. Clevin Hannah went 40-40-90 in 2009-10. Joe Ragland went 50-50-80 (one of the better scoring years in WSU history). After eight games, Baker is shooting 53.9 percent from the field, 42.5 percent from three and 85.7 percent from the line.
- MVC commissioner Doug Elgin attended the game, wearing a yellow shirt and no tie, signaling he wasn’t there to work. He came to enjoy. The MVC personnel at the game, and there were several, thoroughly enjoy it when their schools defeat Saint Louis.
Next up: Oral Roberts, 7 p.m. Saturday (Kansas 22)