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.