The Missouri Valley Conference’s most intimidating venue and its angriest team proved worthy of their reputations as Wichita State pounded Illinois State, 86-45, at home Saturday night. The slap-down reminded MVC watchers that this is still Wichita State’s (21-4, 11-1) league.
How did the Shockers dominate the Redbirds?
Big Boy Basketball
Wichita State’s defense was as good as you could want. This dominating defensive performance was about physical intimidation. The Shockers just refused to allow the Redbirds play in the paint. When Redbird drives were repeatedly turned away, ISU (19-4, 11-1) settled for long three-point attempts, and they found the Koch Arena rims unreceptive to their offers. Illinois State made just four of 22 shots from long distance. The Shockers’ rabid rebounders grabbed eight more than Illinois State (37-29).
MiKyle McIntosh Missing
Illinois State’s second-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, MiKyle McIntosh, missed the contest due to a torn meniscus. The 6’7 forward had knee surgery on Wednesday and could rejoin the Redbirds the final week of the regular season. His inside/outside abilities were sorely missed in the blowout, and his running mate, Deontae Hawkins looked a little lost without his partner. Batman was missing Robin. ISU’s leading scorer made just two of ten field goal attempts.
Shaquille Morris Thundered Early
Wichita State’s center Shaquille Morris recorded his third double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds) in his last six games — the only three such performances in his career. Morris had six of those rebounds in the opening seven minutes, when it was still a game. The 6’8, 265 pound Morris added two blocks and two steals and numerous thunderous screens.
Markis McDuffie and Conner Frankamp Having Fun
Sophomore Markis McDuffie made an early three and finished with a rim-rocking dunk. In between, the 6’9 wing made athletic drives through the paint and finished with 16 points and three steals. Junior Conner Frankamp displayed his three-point prowess. The former Kansas player made four of six from distance, handed out four assists, and finished with a career-high 18 points. The two second-year Shockers look like they’ve found their roles on this edition of Shocker dominance.
These two teams could meet for a third time, in the championship game of Arch Madness on March 5. McIntosh could be back in the ISU lineup by then and an NCAA Tournament berth could be at stake.