Landry Shamet watched Evan Payne’s dunk against Wichita State from a 2014 game in Hawaii.
So Shamet knew what was coming. It looked as if he knew everything about Payne, especially how to frustrate him with defense.
“I didn’t feel like there was any point where I didn’t know what they were trying to do,” Shamet said. “I felt really comfortable guarding him.”
All the Shockers looked comfortable in a surprising 92-55 rout of Long Beach State on Sunday at Koch Arena. The Shockers defended expertly, shot with confidence and didn’t bother with mental lapses. It was the kind of performance, coming against the preseason Big West champion, that will bump up expectations.
Sunday’s performance started with Shamet erasing Payne, a junior guard who transferred to Long Beach State from Loyola Marymount. In 2014, he scored 15 points, including a one-handed dunk after driving through most of the team. For the 49ers to make Sunday interesting, Payne and junior point guard Justin Bibbins needed to excel.
Instead, they disappeared, enveloped by a swarm of long and aggressive defenders.
Payne, who averaged 18 points as a sophomore, scored four and missed 9 of 10 shots. Bibbins, a preseason All-Big West pick, scored four points and missed 12 of 14 shots.
“I like the status of guarding this guy that is a pretty good player,” Shamet said. “I remember that dunk. That was on the scouting report. (Assistant coach Greg) Heiar said he was a freaky athlete.”
In the hallway outside the locker room, Shocker coaches walked by grinning and mystified. They prepared for a tough game. A 21-0 run early in the second half made it a laugher. They prepared for Long Beach State to press for 40 minutes. The 49ers pressed little and accomplished nothing with that defense. Nobody expected that and they weren’t sure what it meant. It made for a happy Sunday.
“For whatever reason, they couldn’t shoot it,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “You watch them on videotape and they make them all.”
Not on Sunday.
WSU (2-0) held the 49ers (1-1) to 2-of-20 shooting from three-point range and 31.3-percent from the field. Long Beach State committed 21 turnovers, leading to 19 WSU points, and made 20 baskets. In two games, the Shockers allowed 34 baskets and forced 40 turnovers. Two weeks ago, Marshall worried mightily about his team’s defense. Now it appears the Shockers are so long, so athletic and so deep opponents shoot every shot with vision obstructed.
Five Shockers scored in double figures, led by Conner Frankamp’s 15 points. Landry Shamet added 12 points, two assists, two steals and a block in 22 minutes. The Shockers made 10 of 20 three-pointers and shot 55 percent from the field.
Gabe Levin led Long Beach State with 13 points and none of his teammates scored more than five. The 49ers missed their first 16 threes and finished 2 of 20 behind the arc.
“Everybody had a serious mindset and focus,” guard Daishon Smith said. “Coaches stressed to us that they were going to be a tough opponent, one of the better teams we faced before going to the Bahamas.”
As in Friday’s opener, WSU’s bench refused to let up. Reserves scored 45 points, led by Smith’s 11, and kept up the unrelenting defense. Freshman Austin Reaves scored 10 points, on 4-of-5 shooting.
Smith highlighted the 21-0 run that rolled the scoreboard from 43-38 to 64-38 with a personal 8-0 run. He made two threes and dunked after his steal for a 20-point edge.
“Daishon Smith changed the game with his defense, got a few deflections, steals,” Marshall said. “Then Austin Reaves looked like a seasoned veteran.”
WSU’s rout bubbled up in the first half and it led by 10 points at the break. It didn’t take long for the Shockers to grab total control.
Zach Brown’s steal and dunk gave WSU a 50-38 lead and forced a 49ers timeout. Things kept getting worse for them.
Threes by Brown and Frankamp made it 64-38 to cap the 21-0 run. Then Reaves made a three from the right side, turning and running downcourt before the ball splashed through the net. Minutes later, he made one from the left side.
WSU led 43-33 at halftime after holding the 49ers to 0-for-7 shooting from three-point range. The Shockers forced nine turnovers and scored 10 points off those turnovers.
Long Beach State, which didn’t press as much as expected in the first half, forced only two turnovers.
A 15-5 run gave the Shockers a 35-25 lead. WSU’s offense started slow, then found its groove late in the half. They made 8 of their final 13 shots while the 49ers missed 9 of their final 12.
Three-pointers by Shamet and Brown gave WSU a 38-27 lead.