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Stutz scores 17 in Shockers' win over UAB

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, at 9:35 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011, at 6:48 a.m.



Downtown defense

WSU guards knew they could turn up the pressure against the Blazers and it paid off throughout the game.

“We’re not a very good basketball team,” UAB coach Mike Davis said. “It’s hard to have a basketball team when you can’t get into your offense.”

WSU’s guards made sure that didn’t happen. They pressured the UAB guards into numerous mistakes, sometimes harassing them into losing the ball out of bounds. The more the Blazers struggled to handle the ball, the harder the Shockers played.

“When you see that you’re playing good defense on somebody and it gets them rattled, it makes you want to do that even more,” WSU guard Demetric Williams said. “It fuels your energy.”

A rash of turnovers late in the first allowed WSU to start its decisive run.

The Blazers trailed 23-21 when WSU’s Tekele Cotton stole the ball. Then Williams badgered Jekore Tyler into losing the ball. The WSU press forced a turnover, leading to a Ben Smith basket for a 29-21 lead.

On UAB’s final possession of the half, freshman K.C. Whitaker lost the ball out of bounds while pressured. In all, the Blazers committed four turnovers in their final six possessions of the half, helping WSU take a 29-22 lead.

UAB finished with 16 turnovers, leading to 20 WSU points. Cotton grabbed three steals, half of WSU’s total.

On the bench

The Shockers shot 25 fewer free throws than their opponents in the first four games, leading to a 27-point deficit from the line.

Those statistics look a lot better after Friday.

WSU made 23 of 30 free throws to UAB’s 11 of 17.

Foul trouble ruined Davis’ rotations all game.

Starter Jordan Swing played five minutes in the first half because he picked up two fouls. He had four with 11:42 remaining in the game. Starter Ovie Soko, UAB’s second-leading scorer, picked up his fourth with 12:30 to play in the game.

Starting guard Quincy Taylor, who played three seasons at Collegiate, fouled three times in the first half. He picked up his fourth with 8:06 to play by running over Carl Hall on a drive.

WSU made 18 straight free throws during one stretch.

Worth noting

David Kyles replaced Ben Smith in the starting lineup. Kyles started the season’s first three games. Smith started the first four. . . . NBA scouts from Golden State, Oklahoma City and New Orleans scouted Friday’s game. . . . WSU leads the series 4-0, winning three times in Wichita and once in Birmingham, Ala.

_ Paul Suellentrop

Some fans might be lukewarm on playing a Wichita State basketball game at Intrust Bank Arena.

One guy likes it much better than Koch Arena — UAB coach Mike Davis. He watched the Shockers dismantle his team 68-46 on Friday at the downtown arena. He coached a 2007 game at Koch Arena and doesn't remember it fondly. Friday's 22-point deficit looks OK when he thinks about his young guards playing in Koch Arena's atmosphere.

"It would have been 40 over there," he said. "I'm glad we played here instead of over there, because if we couldn't handle this situation, it would have been really crazy."

WSU (3-2) didn't need its fans to rattle the Blazers. The Shockers grabbed control early in the second half and UAB (1-3) never seriously threatened. The crowd of 11,204 enjoyed the second Shocker game at Intrust Bank Arena, but didn't need to participate like it did in last season's 82-79 win over Tulsa.

WSU found the inside game it lacked last week, forced 16 turnovers and held the Blazers to 32.1-percent shooting. It made 23 of 30 free throws and outrebounded UAB by eight.

While the Shockers didn't shoot well from the field, coach Gregg Marshall liked his team's passing and patience. The Shockers played too selfishly, at times, during the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. On Friday, they stuck to the offense and it paid off.

"We had to clean that up," point guard Joe Ragland said. "We had to meet as a team and refocus and start executing our sets, which is to get the ball inside."

WSU didn't take its first three-pointer until 12:17 remained in the first half. By that time, center Garrett Stutz had five points and set the tone. He finished with 17 points, making 7 of 10 shots. Power forward Carl Hall added seven points, making 3 of 4 shots, and Ehimen Orukpe dropped in a short hook.

"We're not shooting the ball particularly well," Marshall said. "Until they get in the gym and start knocking down shots, I want the ball to go inside."

Feeding the post provided other benefits.

UAB battled foul problems all night. The Shockers made 23 of 30 free throws, both season highs. They scored 15 points off offensive rebounds.

"Even when we didn't make shots, we got a good number of offensive rebounds," Marshall said. "We got fouled tonight. It's the way you do it."

Davis knew the Shockers wanted to get the ball to Stutz. WSU made forward Cameron Moore play defense, which contributed to his poor shooting in the first half.

"They had a great game plan to attack him," Davis said. "That really hurt his offensive performance."

The guards found Stutz close to the basket, making his job easier. Early in the second half, a pretty piece of passing moved the ball from Demetric Williams to David Kyles to Ragland, who passed to Stutz for a layup.

With that kind of ball movement, it didn't matter that WSU went 3 for 14 from three-point range.

"I was hoping they would wait until the next game to do that," Davis said. "They figured it out. If you get the ball to him, he's a handful. There's nobody in the country that can guard 7-foot guys if you give them one or two dribbles to get a point-blank (shot)."

WSU started to pull away late in the first half with its defensive pressure wearing down the UAB guards. The Shockers led 29-22 at halftime by closing on a 9-1 run fueled by turnovers. Then WSU outscored UAB 14-3 to open the second half. Stutz's layup gave the Shockers a 43-25 lead and forced Davis to call timeout with 16:18 to play.

The Blazers cut the lead to eight with 13:10 to play. A layup by Toure Murry started a 10-run that finished off the Blazers.

Moore led UAB with 18 points and nine rebounds.

Check Paul Suellentrop's Shocker blog at blogs.kansas.com/shockwaves. Reach him at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com.

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