Jan. 21, 2012
By Tom Weber
WICHITA, Kan. - Wichita State delivered an early knockout punch to Southern Illinois, humbling the visitors during an 85-42 rout on Saturday night in front of an appreciative sold-out crowd at Charles Koch Arena.
The Shockers (17-3, 8-1) jumped to a 31-8 lead and continued to pad the margin until they led by 43 when the final buzzer sounded. They remain in a tie for first place with Creighton, as both teams have now pulled away from the pack at the midway point of the Missouri Valley Conference season.
For the Salukis (6-14, 3-6), it was their worst performance of the year. In fact, it was the largest margin of defeat in school history. SIU could barely run its offense during the first 11 minutes of the game. In that span, the Salukis committed more turnovers (10) than they had shot attempts (8).
"We got (the ball) into places where we didn't have a shot," head coach Chris Lowery said. "There was no offense where we tried to go and we just turned it over."
For Southern, it was hard to say which was worse, the offense or the defense. The Salukis shot 34 percent from the field and 35 percent from the free throw line. They had more turnovers (22) than baskets (17). Defensively, they allowed the Shockers to drive past them for layup after layup. Wichita State made 54 percent of its shots and had a stunning 56 points in the paint.
"They got to the lane at will," acknowledged Lowery. "We did a very poor job of guarding their guards."
Lowery rotated all 13 players in and out of the game, searching for a magic combination that he could never find. Southern's best player and leading scorer on the season, Mamadou Seck, had a season-low four points in just 13 minutes.
"Our effort and energy was awful," Lowery said. "We laid down, we didn't come to play today and they steamrolled us."
Many of the wounds were self-inflicted as SIU was called for traveling seven times.
"We haven't laid down all year, we've been extremely competitive, been in every game in the league," said Lowery, shaking his head. "For this to happen is extremely disappointing."
The only Saluki who had a semblance of a good night was forward Dantiel Daniels, who made 4-of-6 shots and led Southern with 12 points and eight rebounds. As they have all season, however, SIU's guards had difficulty feeding the post.
"He's the only one who showed up," Lowery said. "He's going to be a really good player for us, but we have to get everybody else on the same page."
All 13 of Wichita State's players scored at least one field goal and no player finished with more than 11 points. The Shockers were without leading scorer, 7-foot center Garrett Stutz, who sat out with a back injury.
"In a place like this, you have to show a significant amount of poise and patience, and we didn't," Lowery said. "(Wichita State is) playing at a high level."