Wichita State took all the warning signs from Charleston Southern seriously. So seriously, in fact, the Shockers quickly turned Sunday's game into a laugher.
WSU easily handled Charleston Southern 85-57 in its home opener at Koch Arena. Its defense dominated the first half by holding the Buccaneers to five baskets. The second half didn't matter much.
"I knew as soon as we came out of the locker room everyone was ready," WSU senior David Kyles said. "We made a promise to the team we were going to come out on the defensive end and do our thing. Offense was just going to fall into place."
That describes the scene accurately.
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The Shockers (1-0) led 14-2 almost five minutes into the game and didn't allow a basket until almost six minutes passed. The Buccaneers (0-2) didn't get closer than 11 points after the first seven minutes and trailed by 32 points late in the half.
Consider Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh impressed. He wasn't surprised, because he served as an assistant coach under WSU coach Gregg Marshall at Winthrop for two seasons.
Radebaugh wanted his guards to dribble past the Shockers and score in the lane or create open shots. The Shockers stayed with the ball-handlers and allowed teammates to stick with the outside shooters.
"I know Wichita State was extremely ready to play," Radebaugh said. "That was as impressive a defensive display as I've seen in a long time. Their energy, their focus, on a scale of 1-10, was a 10."
With WSU locked in, the game quickly became a mismatch.
"Because of our size, we've got to spread you out and drive you," Radebaugh said. "They were able to keep their body in front and guard the ball."
Kansas State used the same tactic on Friday — after falling behind 14 points at halftime against Charleston Southern. The Wildcats endured a nervous 20 minutes before winning 72-67. Needless to say, that effort got WSU's attention.
"They were up 14 and many thought they should have won," WSU guard Joe Ragland said. "We just wanted to make sure they didn't get any second chance shots, and they didn't get any open shots."
After watching the Kansas State game, Marshall went with his small lineup. He started 6-foot-4 Ben Smith at power forward in place of 6-foot-8 Carl Hall, who started Tuesday's exhibition game.
That lineup got the Shockers going to start the second half of the exhibition game against Emporia State. The first half Sunday looked similar. The Shockers forced bad shots and rebounded. They ran after missed shots and turnovers to get easy baskets.
An 10-0 run gave WSU a 25-6 lead. A 15-0 run, capped by a three from freshman Tekele Cotton, made it 40-10 with five minutes remaining in the half.
Kyles led WSU with 19 points, one off his career high. He made 5 of 8 threes. Hall scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Demetric Williams also scored 12 points.
Charleston Southern missed 22 of 27 shots in the first half and trailed 45-17.
Thomas Odom led Charleston Southern with 13 points. Guard Jeremy Sexton, who scored 19 points against Kansas State, didn't score and missed six shots.