The Shockers did what the Shockers do (pulverize bad teams in Charles Koch Arena), defeating the Drake Bulldogs 90-65. Wichita State once again got off to a quick start, leading 8-0 after the first 3 minutes and 51-21 at halftime. The second half was a different story for both teams. The Bulldogs started making their shots, and the Shockers began having miscues on both ends of the court. Drake won the second half 44-39, but WSU won its third game in the Missouri Valley, pushing its overall record to 13-3. The Bulldogs fall to 3-12.
The Shockers had a balanced attack with 5 players scoring in double digits and 13 players scoring in total. Daishon Smith and Shaq Morris each scored 13 and contributed in many other ways. The Bulldogs had 12 players who scored with De’Antae McMurray leading the team with 13 points and 5 rebounds.
— The Sunflower (@sunflowernews) January 5, 2017
The first half was about as good as it gets in college basketball. The Shockers were absolute dynamite on both ends of the court, scoring 51 on offense and holding the Bulldogs to 21 on defense. WSU held Drake to shooting 26% in the first half and had a rebound margin of +24. That’s pretty dang good.
Although the Shockers let up a bit in the second half, their team stats for the entire game were still remarkable. They held the Bulldogs to 38% from the field and 32% from the three-point line. The Shockers also out-rebounded them 54-28 (with a ridiculous 18-5 advantage on the offensive glass) and had more assists, steals, and blocks. The Shockers look their best when they play selflessly with passion, energy, and confidence, and for most of the game, this was the case.
Every WSU player who entered the game played great. Seriously. Smith, Morris, Landry Shamet, Darral Willis, and Markis McDuffie all shot the ball well. McDuffie himself had a double-double. Rauno Nurger played well down low and had a swish three from the wing. Conner Frankamp had 3 assists and 1 steal. C.J. Keyser drilled a three. Austin Reaves did Austin Reaves things. And Brett Barney made a layup that gave WSU 90 points. The second half could have been better, but overall, it was a terrific team effort by every Shocker.
— Josh Betts (@BettsSportsBeat) January 5, 2017
The second half was not very pretty for Wichita State. The Shockers didn’t seem like the same team that dominated in the first half. They lacked the same amount of energy and focus that benefitted them greatly in the first 20 minutes of the game. Offensively, they weren’t as sharp (9 turnovers in the 2nd half), and defensively, they were lackadaisical at times (Drake shot 54% in the 2nd half). With them leading by 30 at the break against Drake, they really should have extended the lead to 40 or more by the end of the game. Instead, they allowed Drake to outscore them by 5 in the second half. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter, as the Shockers did win by 25. However, these WSU players have to learn to play 40 strong minutes of basketball. If they don’t, they will lose to better teams.
Player of the Game
With so many Shockers playing well, this was a tough decision. One could make a strong case for Daishon Smith and Markis McDuffie, but I’m going with Shaq Morris. In only 15 minutes, he scored 13 points, grabbed 7 rebounds (5 offensive), and had 1 block. That’s efficient. He also showed some versatility in his offensive game with his 6 made field goals. Of those, 2 were thunderous dunks, 2 were layups, 1 was a sweet mid-range jumper, and 1 was a solid turnaround jumper. When healthy, he’s a deadly foe to other Valley teams and a dangerous weapon for WSU.
Tweet of the Game
— Jesse Milne (@jessemilne) January 5, 2017
In the first half, it certainly looked like this was going to be a special game. I’m not sure if Gregg Marshall would ever pull someone from the stands to play, but I would love to see that happen. If not someone from the student section, then perhaps a team manager.
Wichita State’s next 4 games could be the Shockers’ toughest stretch in league play. On Sunday, they travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa, where they will face off against the always dangerous Northern Iowa Panthers. UNI has struggled of late (0-3 in the Valley), but make no mistake, this is a dangerous team that will play its best against the Shockers. After UNI, WSU will return home to host 11-5 Loyola before heading back on the road (figuratively speaking) to face 11-4 Illinois State and 10-6 Evansville. The Shockers have the talent to go 4-0 in these games, but they will need more than that to accomplish this goal.