What’s the best way to snap out of a slow start?
Do what Wichita State did on Thursday night against East Carolina, as the Shockers stopped taking outside shots and went straight to the rim for easy looks that ultimately launched a 95-60 victory at Menges Coliseum.
No. 5 WSU (14-2, 4-0 American) extended the nation’s longest road winning streak to 10 games and took a half-game lead over Cincinnati for the lead in the American Athletic Conference, while ECU (7-9) fell to 1-4 in conference play and suffered its worst home loss since 2008.
Landry Shamet registered his first double-double with 11 points and 11 assists, while Rauno Nurger led WSU in scoring with 14 points off the bench. Shaquille Morris and Markis McDuffie each scored 12, Rashard Kelly added eight rebounds, and Austin Reaves had six assists.
It was hard to remember the Shockers actually faced a 14-9 deficit eight minutes into the game. WSU and the ESPN2 cameras brought out the largest crowd of the season at ECU and the Menges Maniacs were raucous after the 21-point home underdogs — wearing black uniforms for the first time in over a decade — took an early lead.
But when WSU cut out long jumpers and switched to a zone press, it took over the game.
Morris started a 15-0 run with a lay-up. Kelly followed with a put-back, then Conner Frankamp weaved his way through the lane for a twisting lay-in. Kelly added another, then McDuffie and Nurger finished three-point plays.
After the lay-up line concluded, WSU had a 26-16 lead midway through the first half and was well on its way to victory.
Once the outside shots started falling, then the rout was on. WSU ended the half on a 13-1 run to build a 45-23 halftime advantage, as Frankamp, Samajae Haynes-Jones, and Shamet all connected on three-pointers during the run.
Frankamp, who missed Sunday’s game against South Florida due to a stomach bug, extended his school-record streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer (he made two on Thursday) to 36 games. The streak began on Dec. 28, 2016 and Frankamp is shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc during the streak.
WSU made 13 of 19 two-point shots, while it shot just 4 of 15 from beyond the arc. ECU entered the game with the 22nd-best three-point defense on three-point percentage at 30.5 percent. WSU made nine three-pointers, tied for the most ECU has allowed this season, and shot 40.9 percent beyond the arc.
The onslaught only continued in the second half.
Morris came out of halftime with back-to-back baskets, then Zach Brown drilled a three-pointer to extend the lead to 27 points.
The lead grew to 32 in less than 20 seconds when Frankamp picked up a steal on one end, dribbled through two ECU defenders, then kicked out to Shamet for a three-pointer. Seconds later, McDuffie stole the in-bounds pass and easily laid it up for the basket.
WSU’s lead ballooned to as many as 41 late in the second half, as the Shockers made 70 percent of their shots in the final 20 minutes. Walk-on Brett Barney even tallied a career-high of six points.