WICHITA, Kan. — With 11 minutes to play, the No. 14 Wichita State Shickers lineup consisted of three freshmen, a junior transfer and a walk-on.
That was one of many indications the Shockers are rolling again through the Missouri Valley Conference. WSU handled overmatched the Drake Bulldogs 74-40 on Sunday at Koch Arena to remain in first place, six days before a showdown at No. 20 Northern Iowa.
The Shockers (18-2, 8-0 MVC) led all 40 minutes and never gave Drake (4-16, 1-7) any hope. WSU led 36-19 at halftime and buried the Bulldogs by shooting better than 60 percent most of the second half. That allowed WSU coach Gregg Marshall to play deep into his bench in the second half and prepare for the second half of the Valley schedule.
Consider Drake coach Ray Giacoletti impressed. His team lost to WSU 66-58 on Dec. 31 in the conference opener. He knew the rematch could go much differently and his fears came to life quickly.
“What we talked about coming into here, was that it was going to test your substance as a human being, as a competitor,” he said. “There’s very few teams in the country that play as hard as Wichita State does. They play the right way. First time the ball is on the floor tonight, two Wichita State players are on the floor.”
The first meeting offered no clues for Drake in the second, no recipe for sticking with the Shockers. This time, the Shockers held the Bulldogs to 7 of 20 shooting in the first half.
“Our energy was much better this game,” WSU junior guard Fred VanVleet said. “I think they just caught us on a bad day that day, to make a lousy excuse. Today was a different circumstance.”
Junior guard Ron Baker led WSU with 15 points. Senior guard Tekele Cotton added 10. Freshman guard Reed Timmer led Drake with eight points. The Shockers held Drake center Jacob Enevold to four points and four rebounds, down from 12 and 15 in the first meeting.
WSU committed five turnovers, matching a season-low. It held Drake to 2-of-10 shooting from 3-point range.
The Shockers won their 26th straight regular-season MVC game, extending their modern-day record. They won their 28th straight home game, extending a school record, and their 13th straight MVC home game.
“Everyone is playing hard and having fun, just enjoying the game instead of pressing on themselves,” Baker said. “The past three or four games, we’re just having fun out there.”
Wichita State made five of its first seven shots to build an 11-4 lead, highlighted by sharp passing and hustle. Junior forward Evan Wessel dove on the floor to grab a loose ball, leading to a short jumper by senior forward Darius Carter. After a Drake turnover, VanVleet lobbed to Carter for a layup and a 9-2 lead. Carter hit Baker, cutting along the baseline, for a layup and an 11-4 lead.
The Shockers forced three straight turnovers to extend their lead to 20-8. The Bulldogs, who committed seven turnovers in the first meeting, committed eight in the first half to fall behind 36-19.
“We kept talking about ‘we’ll bend, but we’re not going to splinter, we’re not going to break,'” Giacoletti said. “We splintered a little bit.”
The Shockers started the second half with a 12-5 run to go ahead 47-24. Cotton made it 51-29 with a one-handed dunk, past two defenders and soaring over a third, that woke up the crowd. Soon after, Marshall cleared his bench and newcomers and walk-ons finished off the Bulldogs.
NOTES: WSU defeated Drake for a seventh straight time and extended its series lead to 100-47 … Drake lost for the 15th straight time away from home … The Shockers won their sixth straight game by 12 or more points and their third straight by 20 or more … WSU held its sixth straight opponent under 60 points and held an MVC opponent under 50 for the third time … Carter did not play in the second half due to tightness in his back.
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