Wichita State appears to be throwing away all of the momentum it built during a 9-0 start.
The 16th-ranked Shockers look to halt a three-game losing streak when they visit Southern Illinois on Monday night in a Missouri Valley Conference matchup.
Last weekend, Wichita State’s perfect season was ruined with losses to New Mexico and Southern California in Las Vegas. The Shockers (9-3, 0-1) returned home and lost 63-59 to Northern Iowa in their MVC opener on Saturday.
“We’re just not very good right now,” Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon said. “We have to get better.”
The Shockers have turned in their two worst shooting performances of the season in their last two games. They shot 38.0 percent in a 60-56 loss to USC on Dec. 23 and were even worse Saturday, connecting on 36.7 percent of their shots.
Guard Sean Ogirri, the team’s best 3-point shooter, managed only eight points and shot 2-for-6 as the Northern Iowa defense keyed on him.
“We aren’t executing at a high enough level offensively,” Turgeon said. “Teams aren’t going to let Sean beat them. Other guys have to step up and Sean has to become a better screener.”
It won’t be easy for Wichita State to get back on track Monday. The Shockers have dropped eight straight visits to Southern Illinois (10-2, 1-0), which has won 70 of its last 73 home games. The Salukis have won 13 of the last 16 overall matchups against Wichita State.
Southern Illinois had a far better conference opener, winning 68-49 at Illinois State on Friday. The Salukis limited the Redbirds to 32.2 percent shooting.
“Southern is different than any other team you play,” Illinois State coach Porter Moser told Southern Illinois’ official Web site. “It’s their defense. It’s just nonstop. They take away so many things. They make you think about so many things.”
The Salukis ranks second in the MVC in defensive field-goal percentage at 39.2, behind only Northern Iowa’s 38.7 percent.
Southern Illinois, which has been to five straight NCAA tournaments, has all five starters back from last season’s team that went 22-11 and won the MVC tournament.
Leading scorer Jamaal Tatum, who is averaging 14.3 points per game, has struggled in his career against Wichita State. The senior guard is shooting just over 36 percent in six games against the Shockers, and went 5-for-18 from the field and scored 14 points in each of the two meetings last season.
Ogirri’s numbers against Southern Illinois are even worse. The junior made 4-of-21 shots and scored a total of 22 points in last season’s two matchups.