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February 20, 2013

Shocked by Wichita State: ISU men's basketball eliminated from MVC title race

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State regained some of its mojo against Wichita State on Tuesday. Some things that had been going wrong went right for the Sycamores.

But the things that went wrong did them in.

ISU had 16 turnovers and eight misses at the foul line. They proved costly as Wichita State defeated ISU 66-62 in men’s basketball inside Hulman Center.

The loss was ISU’s third in a row — its longest losing skid of the season. ISU — which had a share of first place in the Missouri Valley Conference eight days ago — was eliminated from MVC title contention and fell into fourth place in the league.

“We didn’t play well enough to win the game. We did play a little better defense, we held them to 38-percent shooting, which is pretty good, but we had 16 turnovers and that’s not very good,” ISU point guard Jake Odum said.

Manny Arop led ISU (16-11, 9-7) with 17 points. Odum added 15 and R.J. Mahurin had 13. Cleanthony Early led the Shockers (23-5, 12-4) with 19 off the bench.

ISU held WSU to 38.5-percent shooting and outrebounded the big Shockers 37-31. ISU even scored more points off turnovers than the Shockers (14-13).

But the turnovers the Sycamores had were timely. So were the free throw misses. Dawon Cummings (seven) and Odum (three) were responsible for 10 of the giveaways.

“Wichita was a little tired and ripe to get beat. But a championship-caliber team that they are overcomes that stuff. I told the guys we played hard enough to win, we just didn’t play well enough to win,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.

The giveaways were most costly midway through the second half when three turnovers in three possessions fueled a 6-0 WSU run that put the Shockers in front for good.

The points off turnovers were to be coveted by the Shockers in a game where runs by either team were as hard to find as buried treasure. Neither team led by more than four points until WSU completed its 6-0 run with 8:13 left in the game.

“If you can get easy baskets against these guys, they’re golden. We got a couple. In the second half, I thought we were beautiful in transition,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said.

ISU missed three free throws in the next three minutes to keep the Sycamores from answering WSU points with points of their own.

WSU pushed the knife into the Sycamores slowly as the final minutes played out. When WSU took a 62-55 lead with 41 seconds left, it seemed ISU was destined to fade out.

Mahurin came to the rescue. He converted his seventh career four-point play with 34.9 seconds left to make it 62-59. Mahurin is one 4-point play shy of Aaron Carter’s school and NCAA record of eight.

Demetric Williams made a pair of free throws with 32.2 seconds left to make it 64-59, but Cummings drained a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left to make it 64-62.

ISU tried to trap Early in the corner on the inbounds and as the five-second count ran down, Odum was called for a foul. Early hit a pair of free throws to end ISU’s threat.

In the moment, ISU was upset that Early wasn’t called for traveling or a five-second violation, but frustration gave way to perspective after the game.

“If we play better in the second half, we’re not in that position. We can’t let it get to where one call turns a game one way or another. We have to be in it and not be fighting back,” Mahurin said.

Neither team could break away from the other in a defensive first half. With 6:31 left in the half, ISU led 14-11 and both teams had combined to shoot 10 of 35 from the field.

The pattern broke slightly in the last six minutes. Early drained three 3-pointers during that period. ISU got a few buckets in the paint and 3-pointers by Mahurin and Arop. The 25-all deadlock at halftime was a fair reflection of the clampdown both teams were able to put on the other.

It was more of the same for the first 10 minutes of the second half. After falling behind by four, ISU seemed to have the impetus to make a push when a 6-0 run put the Sycamores in front 42-40 with 10:14 left.

But Wichita State answered with its 6-0 run and ISU wasn’t able to overcome it.

Odum (hip) and Khristian Smith (possible knee) were banged up after the game. Smith was injured in a mid-court collision with Williams. Odum said he absorbed a few shots to his hip during the game, but said he’d be OK.

ISU next plays Iona at 11 a.m. Saturday in its final BracketBusters game. ISU will have four days to rest and has seven days until its next MVC game.

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