WICHITA, Kan. - Lloyd Phillips had a front-row seat on Saturday. He didn't like the view.
Illinois State's senior point guard fouled out with 2:50 left in overtime at Southern Illinois - the first time in two seasons that Phillips had fouled out. He hopes to avoid that fate again starting with Wednesday's 6:05 p.m. game against Wichita State at Koch Arena.
"I hated it. There's nothing you can do. You're basically like a cheerleader," said Phillips as ISU dropped an 81-80 decision. "That team was out there fighting for a win, a win that we really needed, and there's nothing I could do."
ISU (14-6, 5-4) could have pulled into a second-place tie with Wichita State (17-4, 6-3) in the Missouri Valley Conference standings. Instead, the Redbirds are in a four-way tie for third at the league's halfway point.
Phillips' leadership would have been useful in the final minute. ISU had three chances to take the lead, but Osiris Eldridge put up three long jumpers that failed.
"In overtime you could see the change when I wasn't there. We looked kind of funny running our offense," said Phillips. "That's because I'm usually there running our offense. People are used to playing certain spots."
Phillips had an up-and-down junior season with the Redbirds, leaving the team for personal reasons for a couple games in February. It was the first time in his basketball career he had ever played the point, and he struggled with the transition.
This season, Phillips has looked more comfortable from the first game. He is third in the Valley in assists (4.3 per game) and first in steals (1.9), in addition to being ISU's third-leading scorer (10.4 points).
"Lloyd has played awfully well most of the year," said ISU coach Tim Jankovich. "To look up and not have him in overtime was certainly a big blow. I thought we handled it very well. But no question we were playing at a disadvantage."
ISU is basically a couple possessions away from being 7-2 in the Valley. However, the Redbirds couldn't finish off two games on the road.
The Redbirds took the lead with 1:33 left at Missouri State on Jan. 1, but couldn't get a defensive stop and lost, 68-64. ISU led 80-77 with two minutes left in overtime on Saturday and failed to score again.
"You don't get extra points for how close you get," said Jankovich. "We have to continue to try to improve and find ways to get over the hump a couple times. It's an amazingly competitive team race."
Winning at noisy Koch Arena might be ISU's most difficult chore of the season.
Wichita State is 12-0 on its home court, where fans are almost right on top of the action, and averaging near-capacity crowds of 10,371. The Shockers have lost two of their last three games, but the victory was a 60-51 win over league-leading Northern Iowa eight days ago at Koch Arena.
"It's loud. We have a little more bounce in our step and little more urgency in our approach (at home)," said Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall. "It's sad I cannot get them to approach games on the road the same way all the time, but we're working on that."
ISU used Eldridge's hot shooting, 6-of-9 on 3-pointers, and 26 points to beat Wichita State, 72-57, in the Valley opener at Redbird Arena on Dec. 29.
Illinois State vs. Wichita State
Time: 6:05 p.m.
Site: Koch Arena, Wichita, Kan.
TV: Fox Sports Midwest, Comcast Chicago
Radio: WJBC-AM (1230), WJEZ-FM (98.9)
Records: ISU 14-6, 5-4 Valley; Wichita State 17-4, 6-3
Series history/last meeting: ISU leads, 36-27 (ISU won 72-57 on Dec. 29, 2009).
About the Shockers: Wichita State leads the Missouri Valley Conference in several categories. The Shockers are tops in field goal percentage (.453), field goal percentage defense (.401), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.304), rebound margin (6.2), assists (15.1 per game) and steals (7.7) … Clevin Hannah leads the nation in free throw percentage at .964 and has made 42 straight, a school record and seventh best all-time in the Valley. Hannah also is second in the league in assists at 4.8 per game … The Shockers have nine players seeing at least 10 minutes per game. Toure’ Murry is the leader at 30.0 minutes.
Next: Saturday vs. Bradley, 4:35 p.m.
Prediction: Wichita State 74, Illinois State 64
(Scoring, rebounding averages)
F — Dinma Odiakosa, 6-8, Sr. (11.6, 8.4); Jackie Carmichael, 6-9, Fr. (7.5, 4.6); G — Osiris Eldridge, 6-3, Sr. (17.3, 3.6); Lloyd Phillips, 5-10, Sr. (10.4, 2.0); Alex Rubin, 6-1, Jr. (5.2, 1.2).
F — Aaron Ellis, 6-9, Jr. (4.0, 3.3); Graham Hatch, 6-4, Jr. (9.3, 3.9); J.T. Durley, 6-7, Jr. (11.8, 4.4); G — Clevin Hannah, 5-11, Sr. (12.2, 3.2); Toure’ Murry, 6-4, So. (12.8, 5.1).