WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Wichita State guards Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker have had a good chemistry for some time.
So when Baker says he could see something different in VanVleet’s eyes Saturday night, it’s probably true.
“Fred just had this look in his eye like, ‘Shoot it,’ when he passed it to you,” Baker said. “He’s setting us up with these perfect passes, this perfect backspin, and you could tell he wanted you to make the shot.”
It was part of the reason VanVleet had the Shockers’ first triple-double in 43 years as No. 16 Wichita State routed Missouri State 78-35.
VanVleet finished with 10 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the Shockers (21-3, 11-1 Missouri Valley Conference). He completed the feat in just 24 minutes of playing time and knew he was close early in the second half.
“While still playing the game the right way, my guys helped me get over the hump,” he said. “It’s pretty special.”
Baker led all scorers with 17 points, while Shaquille Morris and Darius Carter added 10 each for Wichita State.
Missouri State (9-15, 3-9) has lost nine of its last 10 games and suited up just seven scholarship players due to injuries, illness and departures. Gavin Thurman led the Bears with nine points.
The Bears had not been held to 35 or fewer points since Feb. 11, 1950.
Starting point guard Dorrian Williams did not play due to symptoms from a concussion suffered Wednesday. Christian Kirk, scheduled to start at forward, also did not play due to what coach Paul Lusk called “health issues.”
“They dominated us in every way possible,” Lusk said. “We started a freshman point guard and couldn’t take him out. I’ve never been through anything like this.”
Predictably, the Shockers pressured the short-handed Bears non-stop in the first half and Missouri State turned it over nine times. And even when the Bears were able to run their offense, fatigued legs helped contribute to going 5 of 26 from the floor in the first half.
The Shockers took advantage. Three-pointers from Evan Wessel and Baker helped Wichita State to a 14-3 lead.
Missouri State got within nine, 20-11, on Loomis Gerring’s long jumper with 7:58 remaining in the half.
Wichita State went on a 17-2 run the rest of the half to lead 37-13.
“As much as I honestly feel for what Paul is going through with his roster, you want to win the game,” Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said. “We wanted to make it a track meet. That played in our favor.”
It only got worse in the second. After a Missouri State basket, Wichita State scored 12 straight.
Baker sank two 3-pointers to ignite the run. Carter converted a layup and alley-oop dunk, and Baker turned a steal into a layup.
Wichita State led 49-15 with 16:54 to play, the crowd exploded and the Bears took a timeout.
“We got tons of deflections, and we were relentless on the glass,” Marshall said.
The Shockers used 14 players, twice that of Missouri State.
“I think the past three days, the two practices and this game, have been some of our best-played basketball,” Baker said.
TRIPLE THE FUN
With 13:52 remaining in the game, VanVleet hit a 3-pointer and the crowd let out an extra cheer.
He was already at 10 rebounds and 11 assists, and the 3-pointer gave him 10 points for his triple-double. He exited soon after. He is the first Shocker with a triple-double since 1972, when Terry Benton had 20 points, 22 rebounds and 10 assists against Tulsa.
Missouri State: Lusk faced his 14th ranked opponent in four seasons at Missouri State. That equals the total of the previous three Bears coaches combined. . Missouri State’s Austin Ruder drew a first-half charge on Baker. It was the first charge drawn by Missouri State since Dec. 20.
Wichita State: The Shockers have won 29 straight home games, the fourth longest active streak nationally. . Wichita State has won 10 straight against Missouri State, the longest streak in a series that dates to 1942. . Baker became the 43rd Wichita State player with at least 1,000 career points. . Wichita State’s 1965 Final Four team was recognized at halftime.
Missouri State: Travels to Evansville on Tuesday.
Wichita State: Hosts Indiana State on Wednesday.