Bradley-Wichita St. Preview
Wichita State relied on its top players and one surprise contributor to help open a four-game stretch against Illinois-based Missouri Valley Conference opponents on a positive note.
There could be plenty of contributions throughout the lineup Wednesday night when the No. 15 Shockers look to continue their dominance over visiting Bradley and record a 24th straight victory over a league opponent.
Ron Baker hit all but one of his eight shots to finish with 15 points, Darius Carter scored 14 and Fred VanVleet added 12 with six rebounds and six assists as Wichita State (12-2, 2-0) won for the 24th straight time at home, 70-62 over Illinois State on Sunday.
The Shockers haven’t lost to an MVC opponent since falling 68-65 to Creighton during the 2013 conference tournament. After hosting Bradley (6-9, 1-1), Wichita State continues its Illinois stretch by traveling to Chicago to face Loyola on Sunday then welcomes Southern Illinois to town a week from Wednesday.
While Baker, who averages a team-leading 16.9 points, remains solid and Carter (11.5 points per game) bounced back after totaling 11 in the previous two contests, VanVleet’s lone 3-pointer late Sunday helped the Shockers open a five-point lead and remain in control.
"Those are good basketball players," said coach Gregg Marshall, whose team shot 52.3 percent after shooting 38.1 in the previous three contests. "They’ve won a lot of games here, and they’re continuing to win a lot of games."
Marshall also received a strong effort from freshman forward Shaquille Morris, who matched a season high with nine points and added three blocks in 10 minutes. The 6-foot-7 Morris, who averaged 3.4 points coming into that contest, missed the previous two games and didn’t travel with the team for its 66-58 victory over Drake on New Year’s Eve.
"(Marshall) told me to go home and take some time to just think to myself how bad I wanted it," Morris said of watching that game from home. "It was mostly for me, myself, to get it together. I just gave it my all."
Morris could see more minutes against Bradley, which has dropped nine in a row against the Shockers, and the last five meetings on the road by an average of 25.0 points.
VanVleet (11.4 ppg) had 22 points with seven rebounds and three steals and Carter scored 11 off the bench in last season’s 72-50 home rout of the Braves.
A loser in six straight on the road and 23 of the last 25 such contests, Bradley has averaged 47.0 points on 34.2 percent shooting in its three true road games this season. Wichita State is allowing 57.1 points on 39.8 percent shooting in its seven home contests.
Bradley has yet to play with a full lineup and is expected to be without leading scorer Warren Jones (14.6 ppg) for an eighth straight contest due to a stress fracture in his foot. Center Jermaine Morgan (4.0 ppg, 3.8 rebounds per game) is also likely to sit his fourth consecutive game with a high ankle sprain.
Teammates Omari Grier (10.1 ppg), who had 10 points at Wichita State last season, and Austin Barnes (11.5) each scored 14 in Saturday’s 63-44 home victory over Southern Illinois.
The Braves have lost eight straight road games against Top 25 opponents since a 72-71 win at then-No. 16 Drake on Feb. 19, 2008.