CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) Shaquille Morris proved an able substitute to Wichita State starting forward Darius Carter on Tuesday night at Southern Illinois.
Morris, a 6-foot-7, 261-pound redshirt freshman forward, spurred a critical 8-0 run early in the second half to lift the 13th-ranked Shockers over the Salukis, 84-62. Morris came in for Carter with his team up 13 at the 19:31 mark and delivered four of his career-high 17 points during the run to put Wichita State up 20 with 16:28 left. The Shockers led by as much as 27 before settling for their third double-digit win in their last four games.
Morris made 7 of his 8 shots for the Shockers (25-3, 14-1 Missouri Valley), who have won five straight.
”Confidence, and definitely my teammates trusting me and finding me with the ball in good situations,” Morris said. ”My motor is coming on. I tried to run the floor real hard tonight.”
Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker each scored 13 and Tekele Cotton added 10 for Wichita State.
Deion Lavender’s 15 points led Southern Illinois (10-18, 3-12). Anthony Beane added 14 points and Jordan Caroline scored 10.
The Shockers led by 13 at the half and used a 9-0 run early in second half to put the game away. They made 10 of 19 3-pointers and had 18 assists on 28 baskets.
Carter, who scored a career-high 25 points in Wichita State’s first win over Southern Illinois on Jan. 14, made 3 of 5 from the field and finished with six points in 20 minutes. The Salukis rolled the dice on stopping the senior forward, but couldn’t recover to guard Wichita State’s assortment of shooters.
”You gotta figure out what you’re gonna take away,” Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson said. ”We had gotten our butts whipped so bad on the interior by Carter the first time we played `em, we were trying not to let that happen again, and we gave up some 3s, and they did a good job. We had to play, literally, a perfect game.”
Wichita State started quickly in its fourth road game in its last six, hitting its first five shots on the way to an 11-2 lead.
Inclement weather forced Wichita State to take its charter flight to the region on Tuesday morning rather than Monday night. Carbondale got about six inches of snow in the first major snowstorm in the region on Monday. The Shockers flew from Wichita, Kansas, to Williamson County Airport in Marion, Illinois, which is about 17 miles from Carbondale. They left for home after the game.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said he almost preferred the late arrival.
”Honestly, it’s what I would prefer with my origins being a bus league at Winthrop,” Marshall said. ”Having a couple hours on the bus, we would do that the day of the game quite often, so I don’t really think it matters, to be honest. It wasn’t the break of dawn when we left, I think we had wheels up around 9:15 this morning.”
Southern Illinois: Jalen Pendleton missed the second half with a concussion. He scored six points and grabbed three rebounds in 12 minutes. Starting forward Jordan Caroline also suffered a blow to his upper body and was checked out on the sideline in the second half. Caroline returned to the game and finished with 10 points and three rebounds.
Wichita State: Morris’ 17 points beat his previous career high of 10 against Missouri State on Feb. 8. Morris didn’t make a field goal in the Shockers’ win at Illinois State on Saturday, but is now 13 of his last 20 from the field in his last four games.
Southern Illinois visits Indiana State on Saturday.
Wichita State hosts Evansville on Sunday.