McDuffie’s hot start keeps Wichita State perfect in the Valley

Wichita State pushes past the Ramblers 87-75 to pick up sixth straight win.

Junior forward Darral Willis, Jr. provided early offense, producing six points for an offense that fought to keep pace with an evenly matched offense.

Markis McDuffie sparked new life on offense, with threes and contested layups,  Wednesday, with a season-high 26 points. Wichita State picked up their fifth straight MVC win against the Loyola Ramblers, 87-75.

“It’s not always going to be a 20 or 30-point win,” McDuffie said. “Teams are going to fight, and it’s on us to keep playing and focusing on winning.”

McDuffie’s offense, assisted by two first half three-pointers from Conner Frankamp pushed to a double-digit lead that lasted all but briefly before crumbling away in the second half. 

We had a big lead at the half and then we got a little bit stagnant in the second,” freshman guard Landry Shamet said. “It was more of a slip in our eyes. We’re going to work to try to eliminate that down the road.”

For the first time in conference play, Gregg Marshall wasn’t able to empty the bench in the final six minutes. Loyola pushed to the Shockers to the final minute.

McDuffie’s 26 points was a career-high, and the most by a Shocker this season.

“McDuffie is a tremendous talent,” Marshall said. “He makes it look real easy; it’s a blessing for him and it’s a blessing for us.”

The top two offenses in the MVC, WSU who averages 83.2 points and Loyola, who boasts a 77.5 average, led to a back-and-forth second half showcase, tipped mostly barrels of three-pointers in the second half. WSU rattled in 12 shots on 27 attempts; Loyola was 9-25 from deep.

The Ramblers pulled a 14-point halftime deficit down to four points with 4:36 in the second half. Loyola’s Milton Doyle led the way with 23 points to get the Ramblers in close.

“We need to stay poised and keep encouraging each other and have no negativity, stay positive, and grind out the win,” McDuffie said.

Junior forward Zach Brown answered the contest with a three-pointer, settling the close-call that was the second half. The shot from the perimeter was his first after only hitting one in his last 17 attempts.

“[Brown’s shot] was very big stretching the lead. He was confident, that’s a big shot and I’m glad he hit that,” McDuffie said. “I’m happy for people who are confident and stay confident when the games get close.”

Junior Rauno Nurger led in rebounds with six. Junior Shaq Morris scored three points to reach a milestone of 500 career points.

The Shockers are now 5-0 in Valley play for the fourth straight season and has a win streak of six games.

WSU next takes on Illinois State for the the top spot in the MVC, Saturday.