Key statistics: The Shockers held Bradley to 35.2-percent shooting and the bench outscored the Braves reserves 27-6.
How the game turned: WSU made 7 of 8 free throws and Ron Baker added a three-pointer as the Shockers turned a one-point lead into a 25-14 lead in the first half. Derail Green’s 8-0 run pushed the lead to 40-20 with 1:41 to play in the half.
Records: WSU 18-0, 5-0 MVC; BU 6-12, 1-4
- The Shockers are blocking shots at an historic pace, as Bradley coach Geno Ford can attest. He watched his team beat WSU’s press, on occasion, only to find denial at the rim by Chadrack Lufile, Cleanthony Early and Kadeem Coleby. Even Nick Wiggins, with a spectacular block on Walt Lemon Jr., and Derail Green got in the act. “There are teams that press and pressure; their pressure is a little different,” Ford said. “In our league, there aren’t a lot of teams that have second-line size and explosiveness to go shot-challenge you at the white square. When you do get it down and you beat the press and you can kind of attack them, they’ve got guys that can erase them.” WSU blocked seven shots on Tuesday, bringing its season total to 91, an average of 5.05 a game. Last season’s team blocked 177, best in program history, and averaged 4.5. WSU has kept blocks as a statistic since 1970-71 and one other team averaged four-plus, the 1979-80 team (4.5). Four Shockers are in double digits, led by Lufile’s 17. “It makes them think twice about coming in there,” WSU center Darius Carter said. “We take pride in our help defense.”
- Lufile might be wrapping up the coveted Team Captain on the MVC’s Most Improved Team (an honor no Shocker has claimed). “A year ago, he was not very good,” Ford said. “And now he’s become really good. You watch those tapes when they’re playing non-league games with high-majors and BCS teams, he can physically can battle with all those teams. He’s improved his footwork and his fundamentals. His improvement has impacted their team as much as anything because it gave them another weapon with size.”
- Lufile started his second straight game after falling out of the starting lineup and perhaps this rotation will stick. He seems to play well as a starter (7.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in six starts; 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in 12 off the bench) and Carter gives the second unit an offensive boost. He appears to be WSU’s most complete scorer among the three bigs, so maybe using him off the bench makes sense. WSU coach Gregg Marshall was happy with all three of his posts. “Kadeem, I thought, was good on the defensive glass,” he said. “I like what (Chadrack) is doing, bringing a lot of energy. His rebounding and defense was really good.”
- WSU has started 5-0 or better in the Valley three previous times – 8-0 in 1964-65, 6-0 in 1963-64 and 5-0 in 192-83.
Next up: vs. Indiana State, 3 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2)