No. 10 Wichita State beats Charleston Southern 88-63
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) Less than 12 minutes into the season, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall was beside himself with the play of his 10th-ranked Shockers and launched a stat sheet into the air.
Wichita State might have key veterans, but Friday night's season-opening 88-63 victory over Charleston Southern was a reminder the Shockers will rely on freshmen this season, too.
And while the freshmen had Marshall frustrated early, they bounced back with big efforts, including three who scored in double figures: Eric Hamilton (13), Landry Shamet (13) and Ty Taylor (10).
''I thought the freshmen were the key to the game,'' Marshall said. ''I didn't know they were going to play that much.''
Seniors Ron Baker and Anton Grady had 15 and 12 points, respectively, for the Shockers, who shot 53.6 percent from the field in the second half.
Demetrius Pollard led the Buccaneers with 20 points while Aaron Wheeler had 11. Patrick Wallace and Armel Potter both had 10 points for Charleston Southern.
There were 66 fouls and 71 free throws in the game. Four Buccaneers fouled out.
''We like to play at a great tempo, press with a lot of guys,'' Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh said. ''We had to call all that off or we would have been looking for Wichita State fans to put in.''
One reason the Shockers' freshmen played so much was the absence of senior point guard Fred VanVleet, the preseason Missouri Valley Conference player of the year.
Already dealing with a strained hamstring, VanVleet rolled his right ankle and played just 3 minutes.
That led to an uneven first half
The Buccaneers, who return just one starter, took a 13-11 lead Melvin Brooks' three-point play with 13:56 remaining in the half.
Baker had six points in a 9-0 run that gave the Shockers a 20-13 lead they would never relinquish. Wichita State ended the half on a 9-4 run, keyed by Shamet's 3-pointer, to lead 42-30 at halftime.
The Shockers were 20 of 22 from the free throw line in the half while Charleston Southern was 10 of 18.
Baker was not worried about all the fouls.
''I think what's going to help us with this new emphasis is how deep we are,'' he said. ''We can play a lot of guys.''
The Shockers used that depth to press for much of the second half, which suited the 6-foot-8 Hamilton.
Hamilton's 13 points came on 3-of-4 shooting and in just 15 minutes of playing time. He added seven rebounds.
''Eric gave us a huge lift,'' Marshall said. ''He made me wince a couple times defensively, but he's so productive, so aggressive out there.''
Baker's layin and Zach Brown's dunk pushed the Shockers' lead to 51-38 with 13:51 to play.
Three-pointers from Taylor and Hamilton were part of a 9-2 Wichita State run, giving the Shockers a 60-42 lead with 9:52 remaining.
As the Buccaneers wore down, Wichita State extended the lead. Baker hit a 3-pointer and cut for a layup in a 2-minute span, and the Shockers led 77-55 with 4:11 remaining.
''They play to their strengths, including their size,'' Radebaugh said. ''They're so big. And as we got in foul trouble, we had to play small. Then they just beat us on the glass.''
Wichita State won its 33rd straight home game, a school record. Only Arizona (38) and North Carolina Central (35) entered the season with longer active home winning streaks.
The Shockers' last home loss was to Evansville in the final home game of 2012-13. Wichita State went on to the Final Four that season.
Charleston Southern: Demetrius Pollard, Rae Robinson and Armel Potter all made their debuts after redshirting last season. Pollard (Northeastern) and Robinson (Citadel) are transfers while Potter is a freshman. ...The Buccaneers won their opener last season on a buzzer-beating dunk in overtime at Mississippi.
Wichita State: Banners for a Missouri Valley Conference championship and Sweet 16 appearance were unveiled before the game. . Marshall, who came to Wichita State from Winthrop, has more wins against Charleston Southern than any other opponent. He is 23-2 against the Buccaneers, including 16 straight victories. . Wichita State has won 14 straight season openers.
Charleston Southern: Visits Stanford on Sunday
Wichita State: Visits Tulsa on Tuesday