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Question of the Day
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Bradley coach Geno Ford was worried about foul trouble against No. 5 Wichita State on Tuesday night.
Not just because the Shockers are so much deeper but because his Braves were listening to his own coaching.
“The one thing we demanded was to try to match their physical play,” Ford said. “Your normal physicalness isn’t good enough against these guys.”
So when Bradley found foul trouble midway through the first half, Wichita State’s 72-50 victory was fairly easy to predict.
“Fouls were big for us,” Ford said, “because we only have a couple guys who can match up with them physically in the paint.”
Fred VanVleet had 22 points and seven rebounds, and Darius Carter added 11 points for the unbeaten Shockers (18-0, 5-0 Missouri Valley Conference), who extended school records for winning streak and best start to a season in their first game as a top 5 team since 1981.
Walt Lemon scored 12 points, Tyshon Pickett added 11 and Omari Grier had 10 for Bradley (6-12, 1-4). Those three were a combined 12 of 37 from the field.
“We’ve actually played pretty well the last three games, but they just had their way,” Ford said. “We really don’t think we played that differently than we have. They’re just that good.”
Wichita State might be a little better after getting the bench so many minutes. The Shockers’ two leading scorers, Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker, combined for just 13 points in 40 minutes, and it didn’t really matter.
Bradley pulled within 15-14 on 3-pointer with 8:27 remaining in the first half. But the Braves made just one field goal over the next 5 minutes, allowing Wichita State to pull away. A 3-pointer by Baker keyed a 10-0 run. Minutes later, VanVleet scored five straight points to give the Shockers a 32-18 lead.
“I thought we were active in our pressure,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. “The deflections and steals got them to play faster than they wanted to.”
After Bradley’s Mason Alwan made a layup, the Shockers’ Derail Green took over.
That was quite unexpected as Green had played in just 12 games this season, logging more than 5 minutes only twice. He entered Tuesday’s game averaging less than a point.
But given early playing time due to Evan Wessel’s ankle injury, Green shined. He hit a 3-pointer, two free throws and another 3-pointer in a span of 62 seconds, pushing Wichita State’s lead to 40-20 with 1:35 left in the half.
“Give Green credit,” Ford said. “Those 3s were backbreakers for us.”
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