Wichita State Shockers

Shaky Shockers hold on for exhibition win

Wichita State strung together three good practices earlier this week. On Friday, things went bad. On Saturday, the Shockers led by 16 at halftime and 22 early in the second half.

Then things went bad again.

Get used to those swings of effectiveness that highlighted and low-lighted the 73-67 exhibition win over Augusta (Ga.) at Koch Arena. That’s who the Shockers are in early November as they start play without last season’s steady seniors.

“A lot of it is about handling prosperity,” WSU guard Landry Shamet said. “Knowing you had a good practice or knowing you’re up … and continuing to have that same mind-set, apply that same pressure. That’s where we slip.”

Saturday’s slip almost cost the Shockers. Those ups and downs shouldn’t surprise. The Shockers are replacing five seniors, two of whom are on an NBA roster and spent almost every minute of the past three seasons in charge of the ball.

“We played very well in the first half; not so well in the second half,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said.

And really not well in a three-minute stretch late in the game.

The Shockers led 64-52 with under seven minutes to play. They got the ball to center Shaq Morris in the lane and he bobbled the ball away for a turnover.

That started a stretch of three straight turnovers for the Shockers that helped Augusta guard Keshun Sherrill get hot. He scored all of Augusta’s points in a 13-2 run that cut WSU’s lead to 66-65 with 4:01 to play.

“Every time it left my hand today it felt good,” Sherrill said. “The basketball gods were with me today. They let me bang in a few.”

Sherrill scored 33 points, 28 in the second half and 15 in the final 6:29. Nine of those points came on three-pointers, the final one after running through a close-the-door double screen and scoring over Shamet and Darral Willis.

“He was relentless,” Morris said.

The Shockers steadied themselves with Morris, removed after consecutive turnovers, back in the game. His three-point play gave WSU a 69-65 lead. His layup made it 71-65 and his high-flying tip dunk, off a missed three, gave WSU a 73-67 lead with 45 seconds to play.

WSU started switching screens to keep Sherrill contained and Augusta didn’t get a shot off on its final possession.

“We were able to execute with the game on the line and get some really quality shots,” Marshall said. “We got a stop at the end when a six-point game could have become a one-possession game.”

Marshall liked Conner Frankamp’s poise in the final minutes. He liked Shamet’s seven assists while playing both guard spots. He liked most of the first half action, in which WSU led 41-25 after holding Augusta to 34.8-percent shooting.

Even in the final minutes as the lead slipped, the Shockers got the ball in good spot, before turning it over.

WSU opens the regular season on Friday against South Carolina State and the week of practice will be devoted to turning a few good minutes into a few more.

“That’s just where we’re at,” Shamet said. “It’s gotten a lot better. We would play really well for five minutes and then you’d look like you don’t even know what you’re doing together for five minutes. Now we’re at a point where it’s halves. We need to be a better second-half team.”

AUGUSTA (67): Sherrill 9-21 9-11 33, Williams 0-3 3-6 3, Fields 1-2 0-0 2, Ursich 0-0 0-0 0, Brooks 0-3 0-0 0, Monroe 5-12 4-5 16, Parker 3-5 1-2 7, Byrd 2-3 0-0 6, Cobzaru 0-0 0-0 0, Oliver 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-50 17-24 67.

WICHITA ST. (73): Brown 1-1 0-0 3, McDuffie 1-5 0-0 2, Nurger 1-3 1-1 3, Kelly 1-3 3-6 5, Shamet 4-10 2-2 12, Morris 9-11 6-10 24, Frankamp 3-5 0-0 8, Hamilton 3-3 0-0 6, Smith 1-1 1-2 3, Keyser 1-1 0-0 3, Willis 1-6 0-0 2, Reaves 1-4 0-0 2, Simon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-53 13-22 73.

Halftime: Wichita St. 41-25. Three-point shooting: Augusta 10-25 (Sherrill 6-12, Byrd 2-3, Monroe 2-6, Williams 0-1, Oliver 0-1, Brooks 0-2), Wichita St. 6-17 (Frankamp 2-4, Shamet 2-6, Brown 1-1, Keyser 1-1, Reaves 0-1, Morris 0-1, McDuffie 0-2). Rebounds: Augusta 27 (Williams 7), Wichita St. 38 (McDuffie, Morris 7). Assists: Augusta 13 (Byrd 5), Wichita St. 18 (Shamet 7). Steals: Augusta 5 (Sherrill 2), Wichita St. 3 (Frankamp 2). Blocks: Augusta 5 (Williams 2), Wichita St. 3 (Morris 2). Fouls: Augusta 22, Wichita St. 20. Fouled out: None. Technicals: None. A: 10,105.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop