In six days No. 23 Wichita State hosts No. 13 Creighton in a matchup of the two teams many believe to be the best in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Unfortunately for the Shockers, Evansville (11-6, 4-1 MVC) took full advantage of 22 Shocker turnovers in pulling off the 71-67 upset. The loss spoils the possibility of the Shockers and Bluejays meeting next week with perfect MVC records, and is also a reminder of what happens when you don’t take care of the basketball.
Colt Ryan led the way for the Purple Aces with 24 points and eight assists, but the biggest story of the afternoon was the fact that Marty Simmons’ team scored 27 points off of those 22 Wichita State turnovers.
The tally is a season worst for the Shockers, who entered Sunday’s game averaging 13.9 turnovers per game, a number that ranked second in the Missouri Valley. Malcolm Armstead, who scored 15 points in the first half, led the Shockers with 21 points and Cleanthony Early added 16.
For the game Gregg Marshall’s team shot well from the field (54% FG, 43% 3PT) and out-rebounded Evansville 36-21, but the turnovers and Evansville’s ability to make the Shockers pay on the other end proved to be the difference.
After an Ehimen Orukpe layup tied the score at 56 with 5:08 remaining Ryan would give Evansville the lead for good as he went on a personal 5-0 run to push the lead out to 61-56 with 3:13 to go.
Guards Troy Taylor (12 points) and Ned Cox (ten points) also reached double figures for the Purple Aces, and a Cox three-pointer with 1:48 remaining gave Evansville a 64-58 lead. Wichita State refused to quit however, as a layup from Armstead and an Early three-pointer pulled the Shockers to within one (66-65) with 46 seconds remaining.
But the Shockers were unable to capitalize on two different chances to tie the game, and a Ryan free throw with seven seconds left on the clock sealed things for the Purple Aces.
At 15-2 on the season (4-1 MVC) and Carl Hall reportedly close to making his return to the court there’s no reason for the Shockers or their fans to fall into “panic mode.” But today’s game will serve as a reminder of what happens when they don’t properly value the basketball.