Key statistics: WSU made 10 of 17 three-pointers in the first half to build a 67-33 halftime lead.
Records: Newman 2-0 (the game counted as an exhibition for the Jets), WSU 3-0
How the game turned: Shaq Morris found Darius Carter on two nice passes from the high post to the low post for baskets, which meant Newman’s zone defense couldn’t stop the Shockers in the lane or on the perimeter.
Stat that shouldn’t surprise you: WSU out-rebounded the Jets 57-27 and outscored them 26-0 on second-chance points.
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Stat that might surprise you: WSU missed all six of its threes in the second half.
Next up: vs. Tulsa, 2 p.m. Saturday (Cox 22)
Bob Lutz: Pondering another long run of perfect is no longer crazy for this program.
▪ Things can change quickly with WSU’s newcomers, as Zach Brown showed on Sunday. When he didn’t play against New Mexico State, he looked like a redshirt candidate. He looked out of sorts in a brief appearance against Memphis on Tuesday. On Sunday, he showed how he can help. While the performance came against an NCAA Division II team, Brown looked much more comfortable getting to the right places and playing at the proper pace.
When he can do those things, he can use his athletic ability and shooting. He played 15 minutes and scored nine points by making all three of his shots and two free throws. He grabbed six rebounds and didn’t commit a turnover. Brown is working to improve his endurance and his ball-handling to earn more minutes.
“You have to be really in condition when it comes to out here,” he said. “In high school ball, if you’re not conditioned, you’re still stronger than everybody. In high school, they didn’t pressure you, they didn’t have good defenders as they do here.”
WSU tried to find a Division I opponent for this slot and couldn’t. Playing Newman appears to work better in some ways because players such as Brown got significant playing time to implement lessons learned from two games and practices. “Zach Brown probably played his best basketball since he’s been here,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “He got a couple of deflections that led to steals. He executed our system and he defended very well.”
▪ Shaq Morris only played 11 minutes, largely due to foul trouble, but his time gave us an enticing view of what WSU’s big lineup might offer. He made two sharp passes to Darius Carter on a high-low action. Morris made 3 of 5 shots and for the season is 9 of 13 from the field. If Morris and Carter can play together, it gives Marshall many options. It also might allow Evan Wessel to play more on the wing and give WSU another tough defender to slap on the perimeter pressure that has been so important.
▪ The MVC is 20-12 entering a busy week at holiday tournaments. It is 15-12 against NCAA Division I schools. Good news: Illinois State bounced back from a home loss to Utah State to beat Weber State and Old Dominion, both schools picked near the top of their conferences, in the Paradise Jam. The Redbirds play Seton Hall in Monday’s championship game. Bad news: It concerns me that Missouri State needed Marcus Marshall to score 38 against Eastern Illinois. Southern Illinois’ Anthony Beane scored 32 against Tennessee State and 27 against Illinois-Chicago. Marshall and Beane are high-level players, but those teams need more balance to thrive. Evansville plays Fresno State today in a game that will be a measuring stick.
▪ Tulsa lost to Oral Roberts in its opener before beating Louisiana-Lafayette and Abilene Christian. It plays Auburn on Monday in Las Vegas, then either Oklahoma State or Oregon State. WSU has won six straight over Tulsa (which probably only matters to fans 40 or over), tied for its longest streak in the series. WSU also won six in a row from 1987-89.