WICHITA — No. 9/9 Wichita State flexed some muscle in a 95-57 win over USF Sunday afternoon at Charles Koch Arena.
The Shockers (13-2, 3-0 American) shot a season-best 62.7 percent from the field, thanks to a 12-of-20 performance from three-point range. The team’s 28 assists were a Gregg Marshall Era best.
Defensively, WSU blocked eight shots and turned 18 USF turnovers into 32 points. The Bulls (7-10, 0-4 American) shot just 36.4 percent.
WSU led 51-20 at the break after shooting 75 percent in the first half.
It was their highest halftime percentage in 11 seasons under Gregg Marshall and second-best shooting half overall. (In a 2012 win at Davidson, WSU shot 80 percent in the second half on 20-of-25 shooting).
WSU’s 31-point halftime lead was the fifth-largest in school history (the record, 39-points, came earlier this year against UMKC).
Eight Shockers finished with eight-or-more points, led by Shaquille Morris‘ 15 points in 18 minutes. Morris was 7-of-9 from the field and collected three blocks.
Zach Brown was a perfect 5-for-5 from field, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, to finish with 13 points.
Markis McDuffie (12 points) went 4-of-5 from three and cleared a team-high six rebounds.
Darral Willis Jr. added 11 points, five boards and three blocks.
Conner Frankamp missed the game due to illness, clearing the way for Austin Reaves to make his third start. The sophomore tallied eight points, a career-high seven assists and five rebounds in 20 minutes.
Leading scorer Landry Shamet was content to let his teammates shine. The All-American candidate took just two shots in 22 minutes but finished with seven assists.
Rashard Kelly became the sixth player in school history to participate in 100 career wins, joining Tekele Cotton (120), Fred VanVleet (120), Evan Wessel (109), Demetric Williams (107) and Ron Baker (106).
Malik Martin led three USF players in double-figures with 13 points. David Collins and Terrence Samuel added 12 and 10.
In a week that saw losses from five of the top-seven teams in the AP Poll, the Shockers took care of business with two wins by an average of 28 points. WSU and Cincinnati (both 3-0 in conference play) close out the weekend as the last two unbeatens in the American Athletic Conference.
For the third straight game, WSU poured in 12 three-pointers (12-20). It’s the ninth time this season the Shockers have hit 10 or more triples in a game and the second time shooting 60 percent or better from downtown.
WSU’s 95 points was a season-high for a USF opponent and marked just the second time in 17 games that the Bulls had allowed more than 80 points. USF plays at one of the slowest paces in Division I. Just nine other schools average fewer possessions per game, per Ken Pomeroy’s tempo rankings.
Reaves scored the first five Shocker points of the game to kick-start an 8-0 run and the lead would grow to double-digits at the 14:30 mark following a McDuffie three-pointer. Over the first eight minutes, USF was just 3-of-10 from the floor with seven turnovers. For Wichita State, four of its first six made field goals were from beyond the arc.
A 10-0 run at the midway point then put Wichita State in front 24-6. McDuffie had a pair of treys, Willis swished a wide open jumper from the top of the key and Rauno Nurger hit a lefty hook in the spurt.
With 5:30 remaining in the half, the Shockers were converting from the field at a 72 percent clip, while USF continued to struggle.
As play neared halftime, Wichita State took its largest lead up to that point, 43-17, after hitting 12 consecutive shots. The Shockers finished the half shooting 75 percent, which is the best mark for a first half in the Marshall era, including 6-of-9 from three and smothered the Bulls into just 30 percent shooting.
The Shockers led 51-20 at the break with nine players having scored four or more points, but no one in double-figures. McDuffie and Willis each had nine to lead the way.
WSU’s smothering first half defense forced 13 turnovers, which turned directly into 21 points the other way.
Wichita State’s offense continued humming along to begin the second half with seven straight points from Morris – in a variety of ways. Morris scored inside with a layup and dunk before stepping outside to splash a triple.
Shamet was scoreless until the 10:15 mark of the second half when he buried a three-pointer from the left wing to put Wichita State up, 71-39. On the very next possession Shamet delivered a post pass for an uncontested Morris slam.
Morris’ dunk along with five points from Brown and three free throws from Kelly sparked a 10-0 run to extend the Shockers’ lead to 39 with 7:30 to go. The largest lead for Wichita State would reach 44.
WSU puts its nation-best nine-game road winning streak on the line with a two-game swing at ECU (Jan. 11, 8 p.m. CT, ESPN2) and Tulsa (Jan. 13, 6:30 p.m., ESPNU).ESPN2) and Tulsa (Jan. 13, 6:30 p.m., ESPNU).