January 10, 2015

Wichita State managed to overcome a rough first half in its latest contest to continue its dominance over Missouri Valley Conference opponents.

If the No. 15 Shockers are to record a 25th straight win over a league foe, they likely need a more complete effort Sunday against a Loyola of Chicago squad off to its best start in 49 years.

Wichita State (13-2, 3-0) shot 37.0 percent and trailed by one at the break Wednesday at home to Bradley before going 12 of 24 from the field in the second half and using a 32-11 run over the final 12:23 to win 63-43.

''I didn't recognize that team, that effort, that execution, that determination,'' Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said of his squad's first-half identity. "I'm glad there's two halves."

Marshall was more pleased with his team's performance in the second half, especially on the boards - the Shockers finished with a 41-28 advantage and showed more hustle to the ball in the final 20 minutes.

"It's going to be physical, bodies colliding," Marshall said. "In the Missouri Valley Conference, there's one thing you've got to know, it's not going to be clean. You've got to go get (the ball) like your hungry. Like you haven't eaten in a while. Like it's a T-bone steak."

Though Wichita State has shot 42.0 percent in seven games, it's limited its three MVC opponents to 34.9 percent, including 13 of 47 from 3-point range.

Darius Carter matched a career high with 19 points and had seven boards and freshman Shaquille Morris added 10 with seven rebounds as the Shockers improved to 2-0 during a four-game stretch against MVC teams from Illinois.

Carter (12.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg) has totaled 33 points on 9-of-15 shooting in two games after totaling 11 while going 4 of 18 in the previous two.

Morris has scored 19 in two games after totaling 37 in his previous 11 contests.

''He's coming,'' Marshall said of Morris. ''And I'm sure it won't just be a continual upward trend like on a bar graph. I'm sure there will be a setback somewhere, but he certainly helped us win the last two games.''

Guard Fred VanVleet (11.1 ppg, 5.5 apg), who hails some 90 miles northwest of Chicago in Rockford, Ill., had 22 points on 6-of-6 shooting, plus eight boards and six assists during an 88-74 win at Loyola on Feb. 19 to help the Shockers sweep the season series.

The Ramblers (12-3, 2-1), however, are off to their best start since the 22-3 season of 1965-66.

Coach Porter Moser reached out to a student body that's still on break to return and help his club provide a strong home-court advantage.

"(Our players) want to win so bad and they are listening to us on how to get better," Moser said. "We want to make Gentile Arena the awesome college basketball venue it can be."

Winners in eight of nine and allowing 36.7-percent shooting during a four-game home winning streak, Loyola needed a Christian Thomas basket in the final second to win 71-70 at Evansville on Wednesday.

Thomas (13.1 ppg), who scored 16, has 38 points in his last two at home.

He had 12 points in last season's home loss to the Shockers, while teammate Milton Doyle (12.7 ppg) totaled 34 in both 2013-14 meetings.

A loser of seven straight against Top 25 teams, Loyola fell 87-52 at then-No. 19 Michigan State on Nov. 21 and by nine at then-No. 23 Northern Iowa last Sunday.

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