Key statistics: WSU scored 31 points off 20 Drake turnovers, helping make 22 of 30 two-point shots. According to the shot chart, WSU made 16 layups. Drake made three three-pointers, it fewest since Dec. 14 (three against New Mexico State) and attempted a season-low 10.
How the game turned: A steal and layup by WSU’s Tekele Cotton gave WSU a 22-17 lead in the first half and started an 11-1 run to end the half. Drake committed four turnovers in the final 6:38 of the half and missed six shots.
Records: DU 14-14, 5-11 MVC; WSU 29-0, 16-0
- Sometimes, losing coaches grudgingly offer up praise for the winning team, and that’s to be expected in some situations. We haven’t seen that this season from MVC coaches and it goes beyond WSU dominating the conference. MVC coaches, by all appearances, admire the way the Shockers play. They’re winning because they play hard, defend and rebound, not just because they are talented. Most coaches, no matter who angry about losing, can respect a team that plays the way WSU does. “The thing, to me, that separates this team from other talented team is their toughness defensively, toughness rebounding the basketball offensively,” Drake coach Ray Giacoletti said. “There’s a lot of, over the years, really good teams that are going to try to out-talent you every night. This team does not do that. It’s about as complete a team as I’ve seen in quite awhile.” Certainly, MVC coaches have some self-interest in showering the Shockers with love. It makes the MVC look good. It makes their loss easier to take. And what choice do they have? I still think that if you look beyond that cynical view, you hear real admiration for what the Shockers are doing.
- Giacoletti, an assistant coach at Gonzaga last season, sees this WSU team as better than the one that upset the Zags in Salt Lake City. “From my perspective, I still think they were trying to find themselves (in March),” he said. “This is a confident basketball team. I don’t think there are a whole lot of situations that are going to rattle them. You’re not going to break them. They’re not going to splinter.”
- WSU out-rebounded the Bulldogs 33-26. Giacoletti puts great importance on rebounding stats and he compares the Shockers to the best Michigan State teams and the Kawhi Leonard San Diego State team for tenacity on the boards. “This team rebounds it like them,” he said.
- Five recruits and signee Rashard Kelly watched Saturday’s game. “They were just blown away,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “We had a ton of recruits here – young people that have already committed to us, young people that are considering committing to us.”
- For No. 29′s theme, Marshall went with the B-29 superfortress built in Wichita by Boeing during World War II. Marshall enjoyed the history lesson. “There probably is somebody in the stands that was, literally, hands on on the project,” he said. “And if not, their sons, daughters, grandchildren were definitely there. Let’s play for them.”
- Tekele Cotton’s seven steals tied the WSU record for a single game. He joins Ernie Moore (vs. Drake, 1963), Cheese Johnson (vs. South Dakota, 1978) and Robert George (vs. Bradley, 1992).
- WSU has scored 80-plus points in four of the past five games after scoring 80-plus twice in its first 11 MVC games. In those five games, Cotton is averaging 14.2 points and shooting 53.2 percent from the field and 39.3 percent (11 of 28) from three-point range.
- Here is what we know about MVC Tournament pairings heading into the 4 p.m. Illinois State-Northern Iowa game: WSU is No. 1 and Indiana State is No. 2. Drake, Evansville and Loyola are locked into Thursday. An Illinois State win keeps it alone in third. A UNI win produces a four-way tie for third with Bradley one game back.
Next up: at Bradley, 8 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN2)