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VanVleet leads Wichita State past Loyola-Chicago

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CHICAGO — Wichita State Shockers guard Fred VanVleet shook his head as he tried to explain his perfect record at Gentile Arena, a two-hour trip from his hometown of Rockford, Ill.

VanVleet shot 5-for-5 from the field to lead No. 15 Wichita State to a 67-53 win against the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers on Sunday. That followed last year’s performance in which he shot 6-for-6 from the field in front of dozens of family and friends.

“Maybe I should play all my games here,” VanVleet said.

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall butted in.

“You can’t transfer,” Marshall said with a grin.

VanVleet is staying put, but the Shockers might be going places.

Guard Tekele Cotton scored 16 points to lead Wichita State (14-2, 4-0 Missouri Valley Conference), which won its 22nd consecutive conference game. Guard Ron Baker added 15 points, and VanVleet notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists.

Guard Earl Peterson scored 13 points to lead Loyola-Chicago. Guard Devon Turk tallied 11 points for the Ramblers (12-4, 2-2 MVC), who have lost two of three.

The Shockers outscored Loyola-Chicago 44-25 in the second half to erase a five-point halftime deficit.

“Hats off to Wichita,” Loyola-Chicago coach Porter Moser said. “They showed why they are who they are. They absolutely took it to another level in the second half, and we didn’t match that level.”

Wichita State pulled away with a 9-0 run to grab a 62-45 lead late in the second half. The Shockers shot 54.3 percent (25 of 46) from the field, compared with 37.0 percent (17 of 46) for Loyola-Chicago.

Wichita State opened the second half with runs of 10-0 and 18-3 to grab a 41-31 lead. Cotton hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Shockers a 33-28 lead, and VanVleet increased the margin to 10 with an end-to-end layup with 12:27 remaining.

VanVleet said Wichita State’s game plan remained the same after halftime.

“We just made the same shots that we (missed) in the first half,” VanVleet said. “We knocked them down. I think getting to the lane and getting some easy buckets helped start that.”

Marshall said he was equally as pleased by his team’s stingy defense. Wichita State tallied five blocked shots and six steals.

“As long as I’ve been coaching, (defense) is the thing you’ve got to have in your hip pocket,” Marshall said. “It’s the thing that you can control. You can’t always control whether the ball goes in the basket.”

Moser said Loyola-Chicago could learn from Wichita State.

“There’s never been a team that understands 40 minutes more than them,” Moser said. “They had no panic in them at all.”

Wichita State kept its composure despite a challenging first half. Loyola-Chicago closed the first half on a 10-0 run to lead 28-23 at the break.

Peterson provided a boost off the bench for the Ramblers in the final minute of the first half. He hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to give Loyola-Chicago its first lead of the game at 26-23, and he added a pull-up jumper in the final seconds to put the Ramblers up by five.

Moser said the reason for the run was simple.

“We were being more aggressive,” Moser said. “We were trying to attack a little bit more.”

Wichita State opened the game on a 9-3 run behind steady perimeter shooting from Baker, who hit a jump shot from the elbow and a 3-pointer from the wing. The Shockers increased their lead to 13-6 after VanVleet notched a steal and fired an outlet pass to Baker, who finished with a two-handed dunk.

Loyola-Chicago regrouped after Moser called a timeout with 13:20 to go in the first half. The Ramblers responded with a 7-2 run that featured 4-for-4 shooting at the free throw line along with a 3-pointer from Turk.

Ramblers forward Donte Ingram said he and his teammates could draw some positives from the game.

“On a positive note, we came out and played hard,” Ingram said. “We played defense the first half. But we have to understand, as Wichita State does, that it’s not just 20 minutes. We’ve got to play a full, complete game to beat a great team like that.”

NOTES:

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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