NORMAL — When Austin Hill pulled off a three-point play with 8:55 left in the first half, Illinois State’s basketball team held a 19-14 lead. An upset hung in the air at Redbird Arena on Friday night.
Pretty soon, it was gone – just like the Redbirds’ 3-point shooting.
Missouri Valley Conference favorite Wichita State quickly flexed its muscles after falling behind. The Redbirds went 3-of-19 outside the arc and suffered a 65-51 defeat before a crowd of 4,598.
“They out-toughed us,” said Hill, who led ISU with 14 points. “Everything was going good. We have to be stronger in certain situations. We can’t start taking bad shots and not rebounding. We’ve got to give 100 percent the whole time.”
ISU (8-7) fell to 0-4 in the Valley for the first time since the 2006-07 season. The Redbirds finish off a hectic three-game week by meeting Southern Illinois at 2:05 p.m. Sunday in Carbondale.
Wichita State (13-2, 4-0) won its eighth straight game ahead of a first-place showdown against Missouri State on Sunday. The Shockers had not won at Redbird Arena in nearly five years since a 56-41 victory on Jan. 8, 2006.
“They got the lead and I said, ‘OK, we’ve got a game,’ ” said Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall. “I try not to get too caught up with the score at any given time, halftime, at the 10-minute mark of the first half or 10-minute mark of the second half. The only score that is important is the end result.”
Wichita State outscored ISU 36-13 in a 16-minute stretch from Hill’s basket to the 13-minute mark of the second half. The Shockers built their advantage to as many as 22 at 58-36 with 9:33 left and coasted in from there.
ISU helped the end result by missing 13 of its first 14 attempts from 3-point range. Anthony Cousin, who has been playing well offensively, went 0-of-6 outside the arc and scored five points.
The Redbirds came into the game second-to-last in the Valley with a 3-point percentage of .292. That figure dropped even lower.
“It’s hard for me to believe. We have a number of good shooters,” said Jankovich. “Early in the year I thought we would be a very good shooting team. That’s one of the things we were most excited about. This is the thing we’re most shocked about.”
Forward J.T. Durley paced a balanced Wichita State scoring attack with 13 points, while 7-footer Garrett Stutz added 10 points off the bench. The Shockers shot 49.1 percent from the field and outscored ISU by a 40-14 margin in the paint.
“We didn’t guard the ball nearly well enough. To me that was the real breakdown on the defensive end,” said Jankovich, as the Redbirds dropped back-to-back home games for the first time in his four-year tenure as coach. “That was my biggest disappointment is we just did not keep the ball in front of us well enough. That created a lot of problems for us.”
Collins Bobblehead Night: ISU Athletics will hand out a Doug Collins bobblehead doll to the first 2,500 fans attending the Jan. 15 home game against Evansville. The promotion is sponsored by Frontier Communications.
Doors will open at 4:30 p.m., a half hour earlier than usual, for the 6:05 game. The bobblehead will be available at the north, south, east, west and lower northeast doors to those with a valid game ticket.
Collins is a former ISU All-American, Olympian and NBA All-Star who is now coaching the Philadelphia 76ers.
Redbird Report Card
Jackie Carmichael was aggressive, but only made 4 of 12 shots. The Redbirds again lost rebounding battle, 40-34.
Austin Hill did his best to keep it close. Wichita State guards drove inside at will and were too physical for ISU guards.
Hill broke out of scoring slump with 14 points. Tony Lewis also hung in there and didn’t back down with nine points and six boards.
Wichita State just physically overmatched ISU. Plain and simple. Redbirds must regroup quickly with game at SIU on Sunday.