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RECAP: #21 Wichita State takes MVC auto-bid in 71-51 thrashing of Illinois State

Photo courtesy of Peyton Wesner.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Scottrade Center was divided near mid-court at the border of Shocker Nation and the Red Sea.

This afternoon, in the grudge match between Illinois State and #21 Wichita State, Shocker Nation had the most to cheer about.

In a battle of attrition, the Shockers (30-4, 17-1) won their second Arch Madness in four years, defeating the Redbirds (27-6, 17-1), 71-51. Free throws were the difference, Wichita State shot 37, making 26, while Illinois State was limited to 19.

“They were really physical. When we had — I think our foul trouble almost made us foul more,” said Illinois State head coach Dan Muller. “They have five guys on the court at all times that are threats, and it’s hard to guard.”

Illinois State never led today. The Shockers jumped ahead with a pair of McDuffie free throws in the opening minute.

MVC Tournament Most Outstanding Player Conner Frankamp, as on Saturday, sent the fans behind the bench into a frenzy with his first triple. MVC Freshman of the Year Landry Shamet also got into the act; he scored six of his game-high 19 points, giving Wichita State a 13-4 lead.

The Redbirds answered quickly. MVC Player of the Year Paris Lee gave the Red Sea something to cheer about as he hit his first triple. Lee, as well as sophomore Keyshawn Evans, kept Frankamp’s extended explosion at bay while pulling Illinois State within four.

Though, every time Illinois State cut the deficit to a single possession, Wichita State responded by adding multiple baskets. 

After an Evans’ triple at the 10:50-mark, Shockers’ junior Shaq Morris went on a personal 4-0 run. Moreover, when a McIntosh layup withered the margin to three, Wichita State went on a 9-1 burst, capped by a Darall Willis Jr. tip-in. Gregg Marshall’s squad had gained their first double-digit edge of the day.

And, certainly, it wasn’t their last.

Although Lee sliced the Shockers’ advantage to eight before halftime, Illinois State fell behind by 13 within the first 100 seconds of the second half.

The Redbirds were within single-digits for a final time with 15:54 remaining in regulation.

Nine consecutive Shockers’ free throws ballooned a nine-point deficit into a 17-point gash.

“Clearly, this is the best offensive team they’ve had, might be the best defense,” Muller said of Wichita State. “They don’t have one senior, I mean, they’re really, really, really good.”

Photo courtesy of Peyton Wesner.

Frustration boiled over for Illinois State in the form of technical fouls by Deontae Hawkins and MiKyle McIntosh. 

Two more of McDuffie’s 16 points opened the lead to 21 with the clock under five minutes remaining.

Following the clock hitting triple zeroes, Lee and McIntosh walked to the locker room with towels draped over their heads. Uncertainty had now engulfed them.

Despite the box score showing inefficiency, Paris Lee did anything and everything Sunday. The senior scored 18 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in 35 minutes. Junior MiKyle McIntosh was limited throughout before finding his stroke late. McIntosh had 16 points and 7 rebounds. 

“He had fight in him. Other guys did, but not like him today,” said Muller of Lee. “He brought us back to three or five (points), and they stretched it again. But, without his play, his competitiveness. I don’t know where we would have been tonight.”

Wichita State’s production was peppered among junior Conner Frankamp, sophomore Markis McDuffie, and freshman Landry Shamet. The trio combined for 49 points; Frankamp had 19, McDuffie finished with 16, and Shamet netted 14. 

Shaq Morris grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with 4 points.

Wichita State, as the Missouri Valley Conference tournament champions, is automatically one of the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament. 

“It don’t matter who we play. It’s just a great feeling to know we’re in the tournament the whole week,” said McDuffie. “If we’d have lost, it would have been kind of stressful to think about the whole week, about the loss. Now that we got this win, we can just work to get better.”

The Redbirds, on the other hand, will have to wait until Selection Sunday to find out their fate.

“It would mean a lot to me. I always dreamed about playing in the NCAA Tournament,” Paris Lee said. “It would be a blessing to be in the tournament right now.”

CBS’ Selection Sunday show will air March 12 at 5:30 p.m. EST.

– P. Wesner

Photo courtesy of Peyton Wesner.

RECAP: Jok returns, Hawkeyes win third in a row


Jordan Bohannon drives to the rim in Hawkeyes’ win over Nebraska (Rob Howe)

The Iowa Hawkeyes took down the Nebraska Huskers, notching their third conference win in a row, improving their overall record to 14-10 (6-5 Big Ten).

The Hawkeyes’ will have to learn how to play without Senior star Peter Jok next season and if the past games without him have been any sign, they will be in good hands. They had to play back to back games without him and went 2-0 in those games. But, it was nice to see him back on the court and the Hawkeyes kept their winning ways with Jok with them this time.

The first half was back and forth, and the Hawkeyes barely went in to halftime with a lead, 38-36. But, the second half would be a nine point advantage for the Hawkeyes’, propelling them to an 11 point win. The return of Peter Jok was huge for the Hawkeyes’, but Jordan Bohannon also had his own story. He set the record for most made three-pointers in a season by a Hawkeye Freshman with 54 and counting.

For Nebraska, they have fallen a long way from starting 3-0 in Big Ten play. With this loss, they fall to 10-13 overall (4-7 Big Ten). Tai Webster, their best player, had 14 points and 6 assists. For him, that is a very quite night and it shows with the tough loss for Nebraska.

C0-Stars of the game: Jordan Bohannon (15 points, 5 rebounds, 4-6 3pt) and Peter Jok (12 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds)

Up next for Nebraska is a huge game against the best team in the Big Ten Wisconsin. They will host the Badgers Thursday.

The Hawkeyes’ will travel to Minnesota to take on the Gophers on Wednesday, with the chance to get their fourth win in a row.