Busy winter break for men’s basketball

Wichita State senior Darius Carter makes a wrap around pass in the paint against Illinois State. The Shockers defeated Illinois State 70-62 on Jan. 4.

Sports Editor

The No. 14 Wichita State men’s basketball team tumbled over winter break before hitting their stride in the new year.

With one point wins over Alabama and Hawaii, a six point loss to George Washington in the championship of the Diamond Head Classic and the only double-digit win over Loyola Marymount, the Shockers looked to turn the tables in Missouri Valley Conference play.

Since the GWU loss, WSU has rattled off six straight Valley wins by an average of 13.6 points per game, including a 20-point blowout of Evansville, a team voted to finish fourth in the MVC.

Major factors of the turnaround are due to the good health of starter Evan Wessel, the development of the young bench players and the emergence of redshirt freshman Shaq Morris, who is producing points off the bench and becoming a viable backup and/or counterpart to senior Darius Carter.

With the emergence of Morris, Carter’s game has flourished — he’s scored 43 points in two games.

A healthy Wessel and a developed bench have also propelled WSU to No. 17 in the nation in best scoring defense, only allowing an average of 57.5 points per game.

The team’s defense also held Evansville to 30 percent shooting from the field, a team that’s ranked seventh in the nation with a 49.9 field goal percentage.

The Shockers look to continue a 24-game win streak over MVC opponents against Missouri State at 7 p.m. tonight in Springfield, Mo.

Wichita State vs. Missouri State Notes

• The MSU Bears host WSU at the John Q. Hammons Arena. Last year, MSU came closer to ruining the Shockers’ undefeated run than any regular season opponent by forcing WSU to make a 19-point comeback in the second half and forcing overtime.

• Good news for the Shockers: Marcus Marshall, MSU’s leading scorer, averaging 19.5 points per game, was suspended before the team’s Jan. 14 matchup with Evansville after a disagreement with head coach Paul Lusk.

Marshall decided to transfer from MSU that Friday, leaving the Bears with no players averaging double-digits on the season.

• The Shockers have won their last eight matchups with the Bears. The last time MSU defeated WSU was Feb. 26, 2011, in Springfield, Mo.

• Fred VanVleet needs two more assists to tie for seventh in all-time assists with Paul Guffrovich, and he needs three more assists to tie for sixth in all-time assists as a Shocker.

• Ron Baker stands at No. 51 in all-time points scored as a Shocker with 922 career points. Baker needs one point tonight to tie for 50th, five points to tie for 48th and 18 points to tie for 47th.