WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita State won its 23rd straight regular-season Missouri Valley Conference game to set a modern-era record. No other team since World War II can claim such a dominant stretch.
Sounds like a big deal.
“Cool,” Wichita State junior guard Ron Baker said. “Coach didn’t mention that to us.”
Well, maybe not such a big deal to a team that seems to claim a new landmark so often. That record wasn’t mentioned in the pregame speech, wasn’t written on the wipe board and wasn’t much of a topic of conversation.
On to the next accomplishment.
The 13th-ranked Shockers defeated Southern Illinois 67-55 on Wednesday at Koch Arena, taking the record from the Salukis, who won 22 in a row in 2003-2004. Former MVC members Cincinnati (1957-59) and Oklahoma State (1947-49) also won 22 in a row.
Wichita State (15-2, 5-0 MVC) kept pace with Indiana State atop the conference standings with an efficient victory. Southern Illinois (7-11, 0-5) lost its seventh straight game.
Wichita State senior forward Darius Carter scored a career-high 25 points, taking advantage of inexperienced Salukis big men for a variety of dunks and layups.
“It really helps when you’re surrounded by shooters,” Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson said. “You have to make a choice. You have to decide who’s going to beat you and who’s not. It’s really hard to help on him.”
And Hinson made that assessment after a game in which Wichita State missed 10 of its 12 3-point shots. The Shockers did almost everything else well.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall subbed freely, both to give his newcomers experience and to rest his veterans before Saturday’s game at Evansville.
Wichita State made 65.5 percent of its shots from the field in the first half. It cooled off in the second half but only committed one turnover and gave Southern Illinois few chances to rally.
“I think it’s guys making plays and making shots,” Marshall said. “The new guys are getting more used to doing what they’re doing. They’re running (the offense) efficiently and they’re running it crisply.”
And it helped to have Carter make 11 of 15 shots from the field. He pushed his way into good position near the basket and Southern Illinois defenders got caught watching him score over and over.
“He made great moves,” Marshall said. “He was finishing closer than he caught it. We always want to play through him as much as we can.”
The Shockers outscored the Salukis 32-18 in the lane. Wichita State made 24 of 48 shots from the field and held Southern Illinois to 2-of-9 shooting from 3-point range.
Freshman guard Deion Lavender led Southern Illinois with 15 points and sophomore forward Bola Olaniyan added 12.
Southern Illinois junior guard Anthony Beane, scoreless in the first half, helped the Salukis avoid a rout with 10 second-half points. Down 38-22 at halftime, Southern Illinois cut Wichita State’s lead to 48-39. The Shockers, however, never let it get out of control and steadily rebuilt their lead.
Wichita State grabbed an 8-0 lead by making four of its first five shots from the field. Southern Illinois turned the ball over twice and missed their first three shots. A dunk by Carter caused Hinson to call timeout with 16:55 to play in an attempt to keep it close.
Southern Illinois didn’t score until sophomore forward Sean O’Brien’s short jumper with 15:57 to play in the first half.
The Shockers kept rolling and the Salukis’ anemic offense had no chance to keep up. Wichita State made seven of its first 10 shots from the floor to build an 18-6 lead. Southern Illinois missed seven of its first nine and committed four turnovers in the first nine minutes.
Wichita State extended its lead to 27-11 before changing lineups ruined its flow and its concentration waned. The Shockers committed four straight turnovers and the Salukis scored after every one to cut the lead to 27-18.
The rally forced Wichita State to return to its starters and the Shockers closed the half with a 9-2 run to take a 38-22 lead.
The Shockers also won their 26th straight home game, extending the school record.
NOTES: Wichita State defeated Southern Illinois for the
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