Wichita St.-Tulsa Preview
Wichita State opened its season in impressive fashion, though it suffered a scare with an injury to its top player.
The ninth-ranked Shockers hope to have Fred VanVleet on the floor Tuesday night when they visit Tulsa.
Wichita State began its bid for a fourth straight 30-win season with an 88-63 victory against Charles Southern on Friday, the team's 14th consecutive win in an opener. VanVleet, the preseason Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year after averaging 13.6 points, 5.2 assists and 1.9 steals in 2014-15, was limited to three minutes of action, leaving after he rolled his ankle. He had already been slowed by a strained hamstring.
Coach Gregg Marshall is hopeful VanVleet will be able to play after he participated in Sunday's practice.
VanVleet isn't the only senior standout in Wichita's backcourt, as he's joined by Ron Baker and Evan Wessel. Baker had 15 points to lead five players in double figures, while senior Cleveland State transfer Anton Grady scored 12. Sophomore Rashard Kelly, the team's only non-senior starter, had seven points and four rebounds.
Freshmen Eric Hamilton, Ty Taylor II and Landry Shamet all scored 10-plus.
"I thought the freshmen were the key to the game," Marshall said. "I didn't know they were going to play that much."
Wichita State took care of the basketball, committing eight turnovers, and held the Buccaneers to 37.5 percent shooting. The Shockers ranked second in the MVC last season limiting opponents to 40.2 percent.
They seemed to have a tough time adjusting to the officials' new rule changes and points of emphasis, getting whistled for 27 fouls. However, Wichita State also drew 39 fouls and was 31 of 41 from the free-throw line.
It was called for 16.8 fouls per game in 2014-15.
"It's going to be a free-throw contest every night. Games are longer," Shamet said. "It's just going to be different, something we'll have to adjust to."
While Friday marked a school-record 33rd consecutive home win, Wichita now prepares for one of its three true road games in nonconference play. This could be the Shockers' toughest test before conference play outside of the Advocare Invitational from Nov. 26-29, which also includes the likes of Notre Dame, Iowa and Xavier.
They won 75-55 at home against Tulsa last Nov. 29 with VanVleet recording 21 points and nine assists. Baker scored 19 and was 6 of 11 from 3-point range.
The Golden Hurricane won 98-81 against Central Arkansas on Saturday, shooting 58.5 percent - including 10 of 21 from 3-point range. The starting backcourt duo of James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison had 23 and 22 points. Woodard scored 19 on 8-of-13 shooting in last season's meeting with Wichita State.
"They are a very athletically gifted team," Marshall said. "It's impressive how they run around the court, rebound, jump around, and dunk it in the basket."
Tulsa has dropped 16 in a row against top-10 opponents since a 69-61 win over No. 7 Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament in 2000.