Smith said the team must get tougher to win

Rajon Rondo Bulls Jersey . -- Wichita State will carry its pursuit of perfection into the Missouri Valley tournament. Cleanthony Early scored 19 points, Ron Baker added 13 and the second-ranked Shockers rolled to a 68-45 victory over Missouri State on Saturday, easily putting away a team that had given them fits this season. Relying on the same stubborn defence that carried it on last years improbable March run, Wichita State (31-0, 18-0) became the first team since Saint Josephs in 2004 to enter its league tournament unbeaten. The Shockers will have a first-round bye in St. Louis next week. Missouri State (19-11, 9-9) had them in trouble when they met Jan. 11 in Springfield, Mo., but the Bears blew a 19-point second-half lead and ultimately lost 72-69 in overtime. They never came close to making it a game Saturday, trailing by double-digits in the opening minutes. The Shockers are off to the best start since UNLV began 34-0 and lost in the 1991 national title game. Theyre also off to the best start by a Missouri Valley team since Indiana State, led by Larry Bird, won its first 33 games and fell to Michigan State in the 1979 title game. The Shockers last loss came in the Final Four, too -- to eventual champ Louisville last year. Putting this one away early gave a sellout crowd that had braved the threat of freezing rain ample opportunity to celebrate. Waving signs that applauded their unblemished record, fans packed inside Koch Arena serenaded a senior class led by Early that managed to elevate the program from a solid mid-major into a national power in the midst of a memorable season. Along with fellow seniors Chadrack Lufile, Kadeem Coleby and Nick Wiggins, Early gave coach Gregg Marshall a bear hug when he checked out for the final time in the closing minutes. Jarmar Gulley scored 15 points to lead Missouri State, which was dominated on the boards, in transition and just about everywhere else in losing its 10th straight against ranked teams. Unlike the first meeting, when it was Wichita State that stumbled early, Missouri State missed 18 of its first 22 shots, suffocated under token pressure and never got into a rhythm. When the Bears werent blowing layups, they were turning the ball over, leading to some easy baskets at the other end. Wichita State shot 57 per cent from the field in the first half, a big reason why it had built a 20-point lead just before the break. The trio of Early, Baker and Fred VanVleet picked up where it left off out of the locker room, Early scoring quickly and Baker hitting a long 3-pointer to keep Missouri State at bay. In fact, the only interesting moment of the second half came when Lufile was fouled with about 10 minutes to go. After missing his first seven free throw attempts, the big senior forward -- with the crowd rising to its feet -- finally got one to rattle home. Of course, it hardly mattered that Lufiles foul shooting wasnt perfect. Everything else about Wichita State is these days. Jerian Grant Bulls Jersey . Smith has spent the last three seasons with the Rockies, playing both left and right field, and has a .275 batting average with 51 homers and 181 RBIs in 487 major league games. Bobby Portis Bulls Jersey . It was the most lopsided loss in Lakers history. Darren Collison had a team-high 24 points while starting at shooting guard for the injured Jamal Crawford. Chris Paul added 13 points and 11 assists for the Clippers, who apparently are trying to make up for decades of humiliation at the hands of the Lakers all in one season; theyve won the last two meetings by a combined 84 points.FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Coach Mike Smith took his first steps to help the Atlanta Falcons return to NFL relevance, firing defensive line coach Ray Hamilton and offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn on Monday night. One day after ending a 4-12 season, Smith said the team must get tougher to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the line. Smith said that defensive co-ordinator Mike Nolan, offensive co-ordinator Dirk Koetter and special teams co-ordinator Keith Armstrong will return next season. The firings of Hamilton, Hill and Dunn were hardly surprising as Atlantas offensive and defensive lines rarely won game-long battles on the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked a career-high 44 times. Poor play on the defensive line led to Atlanta entering Week 17 ranked last in third-down efficiency, 29th in scoring and 28th in total yards. General manager Thomas Dimitroff lamented "missed assessments" on acquiring some players and letting others go and how those moves affected the entire team. When training camp started, neither Smith nor Dimitroff envisioned holding a news conference to discuss anything worse than a loss in the Super Bowl after the Falcons narrowly lost the NFC title game last season. But injuries to star wideout Julio Jones, left tackle Sam Baker and defensive end Kroy Biermann were too much to overcome. Sean Weatherspoon, supposed to be Atlantas only every-down linebacker, was hurt and limited to just seven games. Receiver Roddy White and running back Steven Jackson played injured most of the season. "We believe we have a talented football team here and that we need to make adjustments," Dimitroff said, ";but I really, truly believe we have the nucleus and the coach and the leadership to turn this around quickly within our off-season. Nikola Mirotic Bulls Jersey. Though Smith and Dimitroff wouldnt cite specific players, they didnt dispute that the offensive line was a disaster. Peter Konz was overmatched as a starting centre and starting right guard. The right tackle position remained in flux all season, and Lamar Holmes was inconsistent at left tackle. No discrepancy was worse than in the 21-20 season-ending home loss to Carolina. Ryan was sacked nine times and hit 14 others. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was sacked once and hit once. Ryan, as hes done throughout his six-year career, refused to blame his teammates for the poor protection. The two-time Pro Bowl QB, who signed a new five-year, $103.75 million contract last summer that guarantees $59 million, was more disturbed about his interception that Panthers cornerback Melvin White returned for a 3-yard touchdown. "Its the end of the season, and Im healthy, but we all have to improve," Ryan said. "I have to play better. We have to play better up front. We have to play better on the outside. Collectively, we didnt play good enough to win." Atlantas defensive line wasnt much better. Releasing veteran end John Abraham last March proved to be a bad decision after he put up big numbers for Arizona. His replacement, free agent acquisition Osi Umenyiora, was unable to hold onto the role he wanted as an every-down end. But Smith and Dimitroff were proud of the performances of rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant, a first-round draft pick, and rookie linebacker Paul Worrilow, an undrafted free agent. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '

 

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