Not often does a player who scores only six points have such a big impact on a college basketball game, but Wichita State Shockers guard Fred VanVleet had such a night Wednesday in the Shockers’ 66-47 rout of MVC rival Illinois State.
VanVleet hit just 2-of-6 shots from the field, including misses on both of his three-point nights. But VanVleet was a master at distributing the ball Wednesday night, collecting 10 assists and adding seven assists for what turned out to be a very impressive stat line.
To put VanVleet’s night in perspective, his career-high 10 assists were equal to the total for the game for the entire Illinois State (8-7, 1-2 MVC) team. Of course, the Redbirds didn’t have many opportunities for assists, either. Wichita State’s defense held Illinois State to just 18 made baskets and 32.7 percent shooting for the night.
While only scoring six points himself, the assists left VanVleet responsible for 31 points total, with 25 coming off his assists, including five three-pointers. VanVleet’s first three assists were all on three-point shots, as Wichita State took a 29-16 lead with just less than five minutes to go in the first half.
VanVleet then got a steal that eventually led to a pair of Ron Baker (11 points, three rebounds, three assists) free throws that pushed the lead to 15 points. From there, the Shockers (16-0, 3-0 MVC) never led by less than 11 points and Van Vleet’s pair of free throws with 6:31 to go in the game put Wichita State up 59-35, and the Redbirds were looking for a warm bus to get out of town. Bobby Hunter led ISU with 11 points.
A 5-foot-11 sophomore, VanVleet hasn’t gotten as much press as teammates like Cleanthony Early, Baker and Tekele Cotton this season. But he’s been a valuable layer for the Shockers this season who has proven versatile enough to contribute in many different areas.
Despite his diminutive stature, he’s grabbed at least five rebounds in five different games this season (the seven Wednesday night were a season high). While he only scored six points against Illinois State, VanVleet has hit double figures in scoring 10 times this season, including a career-high 22 on Sunday in a 67-53 win over Northern Iowa. VanVleet’s 10 assists against Illinois State were a season high, but represented the 10th time this season he’s had at least six in a game.
VanVleet’s efforts, both Wednesday and throughout the season, are a good example of why the Shockers are undefeated and could stay that way through the MVC season. Dangerous, versatile and poised, VanVleet is every bit the talent of his more talked about teammates.