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Published September 15, 2015
It's not that Indiana State coach Greg Lansing hates playing a zone defense. He's just certainly not a big fan.
"It's not something I want to spend even 5 minutes on in practice," Lansing said.
But the Sycamores did spend time on it this week, and the result was a 68-55 upset of No. 15 Wichita State on Tuesday night.
Indiana State (14-7, 7-3 Missouri Valley) stayed in the conference race with its first victory over a ranked team in five tries this season. Manny Arop scored 17 points to lead the Sycamores, while Davonte Brown and Jake Odum each added 10 points.
Though wins against Miami and Mississippi look good on the resume, too, Arop said this victory was the sweetest.
"Because of this environment," Arop explained. "The difference is they were playing in front of their fans, one of the best crowds in the country."
That crowd had helped Wichita State (19-3, 8-2) wins its previous 19 home games, but it wasn't enough against a determined Indiana State team that held the Shockers to 27.1 percent shooting.
"What I'm happiest about is we weren't passive," Lansing said. "If you come in passive here, they smell blood in the water."
Cleanthony Early led the Shockers with 15 points while Demetric Williams added 14.
Arop said Indiana State made Wichita State "a jump shooting team" with a 2-3 zone it employed after every made basket.
But Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said he was less concerned about going 9 of 28 from behind the 3-point line than he was by going 7 of 31 inside it.
"We've got to make some shots," he said. "We couldn't score inside, couldn't guard them inside, they beat us on the boards — there were a lot of things that weren't the norm."
Lansing said he was thrilled the zone "took Wichita State out of its rhythm."
Indiana State was at its most aggressive during the most important stretch of the game, the final 4:12 of the first half. The Sycamores outscored the Shockers 17-3 during that stretch to take a 39-28 lead.
The spurt was culminated with R.J. Mahurn's four-point play and Khristian Smith's steal and layup, all in the final 35 seconds.
"They were quicker to every loose ball, to rebounds," Marshall said. "I need to figure out why that happened."
As expected, Wichita State stormed out of the locker room at halftime and quickly scored the first five points. Four minutes into the half, Indiana State's lead had shrunk to 39-35.
But a 3-pointer by Dawon Cummings and a jumper by Arop stemmed the tide and padded the Sycamores' lead to 44-35 with 14:45 to play.
"I thought Dawon's shot was huge," Lansing said. "It felt like we were never going to score again."
Trailing by 10 points with 10:34 remaining, Wichita State made a run by holding Indiana State to two points over the next 4 minutes. A 3-pointer by Fred Van Vleet helped the Shockers methodically pull within 50-48 with 7:26 left.
"It was more than once where it seemed like one more basket and we were right there," Marshall said. "But then they'd make the plays."
Odum did just that, scoring four straight points to halt Wichita State's momentum. Two minutes later, Arop outhustled everyone to a loose rebound on Wichita State's end and raced for a layup.
In Lansing's three seasons at Indiana State, the Sycamores are 38-3 when holding an opponents to less than 63 points.