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Bench play is the difference as the Shockers continue to rule the MVC

Wichita State is leading the MVC. Its bench is a big reason why.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri State at Wichita State Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Gregg Marshall has maintained a winning team and a competitive program this season despite losing many of his star players from last year to graduation.

Throughout the MVC season, his team has continued to win, and kept its hopes of returning back to the NCAA Tournament alive. In recent games, Wichita State’s bench has played a key role in the team’s success.

Let’s take a look at what the bench has done.

Wichita State/Loyola (Feb. 12)

Wichita State

Wichita State’s starting players scored 61 points. Its bench came in and added 20. Of the 20 points, 11 came from Rashard Kelly, three from Austin Reaves, and two each from Daishon Smith, CJ Keyser, and Rauno Nurger.

Along with the 20 points came great defense, which kept up with what the starters had done. Marshall was able to give his players rest and still get 20 points of production in the process.

Loyola Chicago

Loyola’s starting players scored 56 points on Sunday. Its bench came in and scored 18. While that 18 is impressive, 15 of those points came from Aundre Jackson, Loyola’s star forward who plays starter minutes. Porter Moser substituted in five different players in an attempt get production, but those players attempted one or two shots each and weren’t helping on the defensive end.

Wichita State/Missouri State (Feb. 9)

Wichita State

In this game, Wichita State’s starters scored 43 points, with each averaging around 20 minutes of play. The bench came in and added 37 points. Darral Wllis and Rauno Nurger led the bench production with 10 points each, and Daishon Smith followed right behind with eight. Marshall was able to rest his starters, yet still get great offensive production at the same time.

Missouri State

On a night when Obediah Church couldn’t get a point and Dequon Miller shot 3-of-12 from the floor, Missouri State’s bench had bright spots in Chris Kendrix and Ryan Kreklow, who scored 11 and nine points, respectively. Outside of them, the bench struggled and the scoring was split. The starters scored 31 points and so did the bench.

In total, productive benches are clearly important on both ends of the floor. Being asked to come in and shoot is not a simple task, but one that is important and essential to a successful team.

Wichita State’s bench has been a positive factor all season long, and it has especially become a difference-maker in conference play against teams that aren’t as deep. For MVC teams like Loyola, that are not seeing much success from the bench, their struggles will only continue as conference play drags on.

For the Shockers, their bench will continue to support them all the way into March.