WICHITA, KAN. —
Give No. 5 Wichita State an inch? They’re not going to take a mile, they’re going to take you to the cleaners.
That’s exactly what happened to Indiana State’s men’s basketball on Saturday in the din of Koch Arena.
The Sycamores looked tentative, nervous and lacked toughness in ways rarely seen this season and it came against the wrong team and in the wrong place. ISU was on the receiving end of a dominant second half performance by the Shockers as they remained unbeaten with a 68-48 victory.
“That was a domination. We got taught a little bit of a lesson today,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said. “I thought our guys were ready. Maybe we were too loose. As a veteran team, I let them be loose if they were going to be loose, but we didn’t compete.”
Little went right for the Sycamores. ISU was more than 20 points below its season scoring average as they shot a season-low 31.4 percent from the field and only scored 14 in the paint. Dawon Cummings was the only Sycamore to reach double-figures with 19 points.
“We have to be more mentally focused on the task. Not just our individual tasks, but our team tasks,” Cummings said.
ISU (14-4, 5-1) trailed by nine at halftime. Despite the deficit, the Sycamores still had hope to get in the game. It appeared they could do just that after probing for WSU weakness and it got decent looks on its first three possessions of the second half. The Sycamores got what they wanted.
“You mean layups?” Lansing said icily.
That was the idea, but it didn’t work out that way. Jake Odum turned the ball over on ISU’s first chance as WSU’s bigs closed on him and his last-second pass sailed awry. After Cummings missed a 3-pointer, ISU ran a play for Justin Gant, but he missed an easy layup.
From there, it got uglier. ISU turned it over on its next four trips, nearly all on passes into the post that were either too long or mishandled by the Sycamores’ bigs. ISU’s inability to convert eroded away at an ISU defensive effort that had been solid up until the second half.
“We were getting right to the rim, but then Justin turned it over a couple of times and we completely shut down on the defensive end,” Lansing said.
What came next was a statement of intent from a WSU team that has more than just Missouri Valley Conference title aspirations, but NCAA ones.
When Fred VanVleet converted a traditional three-point play at 16:56, Koch Arena erupted, the Shockers (19-0, 6-0) smelled blood in the water, and the Sycamores were lunch.
From VanVleet’s three-point play to the point when WSU coach Gregg Marshall took out his starters at 6:59, WSU scored on 15 of 18 possessions. The WSU lead gushed from 11 to 28 in the span of 10 minutes. ISU didn’t score its first second-half field goal until the 12:15 mark.
“You have to give them credit. They attacked us and were aggressive the whole game,” Gant said.
ISU’s seven-game win streak and its best MVC start since 1979 came to a resounding end.
“We had the opportunity to play a very good basketball team and we played very well today on both ends of the floor,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “When you beat those guys by 20 points you’ve done something because they’re good.”
ISU’s offense was also ineffective in the first half, but it played one of its better defensive halves in the opening 20 minutes. ISU shot 33.3 percent and the Sycamores didn’t help their cause by rushing their offense at times.
It took WSU some time to get untracked as well, but VanVleet steered the Shockers in the right direction. Allowed to play physical -- the ISU coaching staff called for the sophomore point guard to be called for repeated arm-bars -- VanVleet used it to his advantage to create space for himself and passing lanes for his teammates.
WSU led 19-16 with 5:46 left, but broke away just before halftime with a 10-2 run to take an 11-point lead. WSU led 31-22 at halftime.
There was still hope for the Sycamores at that point. But it drained away quickly in WSU’s second-half deluge.
ISU next plays at Loyola on Wednesday. Whatever lessons ISU learned against WSU will have to be learned with any lingering negative side-effects tamped down.
“We have to raise ourselves to their level. We get to play them again, maybe two more times in the [MVC] tournament. We have to be much more competitive than we were today,” Lansing said.
WICHITA, KAN. —
Give No. 5 Wichita State an inch? They’re not going to take a mile, they’re going to take you to the cleaners.
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