After No. 24 Wichita State put the finishing touches on its 80-54 demolition of Northern Colorado on Saturday night in Koch Arena, WSU coach Gregg Marshall addressed his teams injury situation.
Starters Ehimen Orukpe (ankle) and Evan Wessel (hand) sat out, leaving Marshall with 10 scholarship players available. Not only did all 10 play, but all 10 logged between 18 and 22 minutes and all 10 scored.
But Marshall was almost distraught his rotation was diminished.
Id love to go 12 deep instead of 10 deep, Marshall said.
Depth is a luxury Marshall can enjoy. A win against an overmatched Northern Colorado squad wasnt in itself impressive, but winning by 26 without two key pieces certainly was.
Theres a lot of talent on the squad where (Marshall) can play a lot of guys like that, said senior Demetric Williams, who saw his first start of the year in place of Wessel. Theres a lot of guys that can put it in the hole. Being unselfish and working together can work in our favor playing all those guys.
WSU has found the right balance to this point and improved to 9-0 for the third time in program history and first time since the 2006-07 season.
The Shockers made more than half of their shots for the third consecutive game, shooting 55.6 percent against Northern Colorado. It was also their best shooting game from beyond the arc, making 12 three-pointers and setting season-highs in threes made and attempted (24).
Even though Marshall stressed working from the inside-out more, he had no problem with the direction of WSUs offense against yet another zone.
I dont recall a bad one, Marshall said of his teams three-point shot selection.
Forcing WSU into perimeter shots has been its oppositions strategy for most of the season. Northern Colorado didnt regret it.
"When you have bigger, stronger, more athletic guys driving the lane, its going to force help, Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill said. We knew that, and we knew we could live with them taking corner threes. They just knocked them down."
That set up a dream situation for junior Nick Wiggins, who entered averaging less than seven minutes a game. But the zone made Marshall insert him more and Wiggins responded with four three-pointers and a career-high 14 points off the bench in 18 minutes.
Ive been waiting for my opportunity, Wiggins said. Weve got a couple guys banged up right now. Coach is hard on me and I know its going to make me a better player. I was ready to go tonight.
WSU was the aggressor from the beginning, as Cleanthony Early scored nine points to spur on a 14-2 opening to the game. The Shockers would go on to play the final 36 minutes with a double-digit lead.
Early finished with a team-high 16 points to lead four Shockers in double-figures, the most theyve had all season. Along with Early and Wiggins, Demetric Williams (12 points) and Malcolm Armstead (11) were in double-digits.
I wanted (shots) to come to me because I dont want to rush too many shots, Early said. When I slow it down and let it come to me and Im in my groove, I get better shots.
But it was not all positives for Marshall, who had a legitimate claim to be unhappy with a second half that saw WSU turn the ball over 12 times.
To reach 10-0, which WSU has never done before, Marshall knows his team cant succumb to any more periods of lethargy when WSU travels to Knoxville next Thursday to take on Tennessee.
Im a pretty hard critic, Marshall said. Theyre 9-0 and just tied the school record for most wins to start a season, but we wont go 10-0 unless we play better than we did in the second half.
At the same time, were capable. Were capable of playing very, very good basketball.