Key statistics: No Illinois State starter scored more than nine points and they combined to shoot 10 of 42 from the field. Daishon Knight, who averaged 14.2 points, scored five points on 2-of-9 shooting. Zach Lofton, who averaged 11.7, scored eight on 3-of-18 shooting. Yes, 3 of 18.
How the game turned: Two layups by WSU’s Chadrack Lufile started WSU’s 12-3 run after halftime that pushed the lead to 49-27.
Records: WSU 16-0, 3-0 MVC; ISU 8-7, 1-2
- Wichita State’s three big men combined for 19 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots. Senior Chadrack Lufile came off the bench to play the lead role with eight points, five rebounds and a block. Kadeem Coleby blocked three shots in 10 minutes. Starter Darius Carter scored seven points. Lufile’s speed is sometimes an under-utilized asset. On Wednesday, he hustled downcourt for two layups early in the second half, causing Redbirds coach Dan Muller to call timeout. “I just played to my strengths and ran the floor,” Lufile said. “Just using my speed against a slow player.” Lufile’s play in the first half earned him the start in the second half. “He came in and gave us a boost offensively,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “I think he was excited to be back in that lineup to start the second half. We’ve just got to get Darius going a little bit.”
- WSU guard Fred VanVleet gave Illinois State’s Bobby Hunter a pass on the play that buckled VanVleet’s left knee. VanVleet said he didn’t think it was malicious and credited Hunter for apologizing afterward. Marshall expressed disappointment that no foul was called. “I got really mad when that happened,” Lufile said. “I had to calm myself down. I’m just glad he’s OK.” VanVleet and Lufile connected on those two layups early in the second half that helped bury the Redbirds. “He sees the floor really well as a young guard,” Lufile said. “He’s really mature with his game. I like how aggressive he is.”
- VanVleet is the first Shocker to hit double-digits in assists since Demetric Williams had 10 against Evansville in 2012.
- Illinois State went to a 2-3 zone during the non-conference season out of necessity after losing one of its big men. The Redbirds don’t have the size or depth to play man to man and the zone simplifies scouting reports and saves their big men a few fouls. Credit the Redbird coaches with having the flexibility to make the change during the season. Their roster is incomplete and inexperienced, but the talent will give them a chance to finish in the top half of the MVC. It will be interesting to see if this group can develop into a tougher, more cohesive unit.
- Neither of Illinois State’s defensive tactics bothered the Shockers much, despite a poor shooting night. The Shockers didn’t turn the ball over against the press and they shot over or passed over the zone. “It’s kind of an awkward press,” WSU guard Ron Baker said. “They’ve got a lot of freedom, as far as their guards, trapping whenever they want. We handled it well and got a nice flash in the middle and were able to slice their press and get some easy shots.”
- WSU outscored the Redbirds 19-6 on points off turnovers. The Shockers forced 15 and blocked eight shots, rarely giving Illinois State open looks. “We drove down the lane and were soft with the ball,” Hunter told The Pantagraph. “(Officials) are not going to call very many fouls in the paint, so we have to be more physical when driving down the lane.”
- The Shockers remain one of the five unbeaten teams in the country, joining Wisconsin (16-0), Iowa State (14-0), Syracuse (15-0) and Arizona (15-0).
- Marshall is coming up on his personal record for a winning streak as a head coach. His 2006-07 team won 19 in a row before losing to Oregon in the NCAA Tournament. His 2004-05 Winthrop team won 18 in a row before losing to Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament.
- WSU is 3-0 in the MVC for the second straight season and the third time in Marshall’s seven seasons.
Next up: at Missouri State, 7 p.m. Saturday (No TV, ESPN3)