Key statistics: The Shockers scored 42 points in the paint, 30 in the second half. They scored 49 second-half points, making 20 of 37 shots to erase an eight-point halftime deficit.
How the game turned: This will sound familiar. Cleanthony Early made two threes (early in the second half instead of late) to get WSU’s offense rolling. Those shots, and several defensive stops, sparked WSU to a 14-2 run after halftime. WSU led 36-32 wtih 15:46 to play on Early’s dunk and never trailed again.
Records: WSU 9-0, ORU 5-4
ORU can’t keep up when the Shockers start running.
Bob Lutz: It’s Chadrack, if you please.
Tougher guarantee games beef up WSU schedule.
- Oral Roberts came to Koch Arena hoping to shut down WSU guards Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet and hope the big men couldn’t bail out the Shockers. Good strategy. Baker scored 20-plus points in four previous games and one of those two led WSU in scoring in six of eight games. WSU’s big men? Who knows how they might react. Baker scored nine points, on 2-of-8 shooting, and VanVleet four. The Shocker bigs spoiled the plan with a productive second half. Chadrack Lufile scored a career-high 14 points, 10 in the second half. Darius Carter scored 12 points, his first double-figures game as a Shocker, 10 in the second half. “Our post defense was awful,” ORU coach Scott Sutton said. “I thought we did a great job the entire night on the two guys I was pretty concerned with, and that’s Baker and VanVleet. I thought our big guys could play them even. They’re a lot better than what I saw on tape. If they can play at that level, obviously this is a great, great team because their guards are obviously excellent.” The Shockers also got five rebounds, four on offense, from Kadeem Coleby, who scored five points.
- Lufile continues to be the revelation of the early season. He will get a lot of credit for his 14 points, setting a career-high for a second straight game. He also grabbed three offensive rebounds (seven total) and his defense on Shawn Glover helped change the tone of the game in the second half. Coleby and Carter, however, remain critical to WSU’s future. Coleby, even for his ups and downs this season, offers WSU the potential of the best blend of shot-blocking and scoring. Carter, as well, can do some things athletically that Lufile cannot. While Lufile might be close to reaching his ceiling, Coleby and Carter have much more to offer and WSU will need them to contribute against more physical teams on the schedule.
- WSU coach Gregg Marshall said the big men got going on offense in the second half by running hard to the lane against ORU’s man to man. “In the second half, I thought we were taking on those ball screens more aggressively and finding the roll guy,” he said. “The roll guy was rolling to score. He wasn’t rolling like it was a stroll in the park. He had a purpose, and (Chadrack) was the beneficiary most of the time.”
- Will WSU move into the top 10 in the AP poll? How much will voters penalize No. 6 Kansas for two losses in its past three games? Those questions are connected and I would guess Kansas will drop, but not out of the top 10. No. 1 Michigan State (North Carolina) and No. 3 Kentucky (Baylor) also lost. There will be shuffling in the top 10, but I’m not sure it will move the Shockers up.
- The MVC showed a bit of life on Saturday, although not enough to dramatically change perceptions. Illinois State defeated No. 25 Dayton 81-75. Redbirds coach Dan Muller upgraded his schedule and it’s good to see his team rewarded with a victory. Dayton owns wins over Georgia Tech and Gonzaga and a one-point loss to Baylor. Northern Iowa teased MVC fans with an 18-point lead against No. 17 Iowa State before losing 91-82 in overtime. Indiana State improved to 6-2 and it’s worth noting its losses are by one-point each. The Sycamores play Belmont and Saint Louis this month, which means they might have a chance to revive their at-large resume – but only if Notre Dame improves its No. 206 RPI.
Next up: vs. Tennessee, 1 p.m. Saturday at Intrust Bank Arena (ESPN2)