▪ Key statistics: The Shockers took nine more shots than Tulsa, thanks largely to a 22-rebound edge, 10 on the offensive glass.
Fifteen turnovers are about three more than is comfortable. Shooting 42 percent from the field and 27 percent from three will get you beat many times. As is their custom, the Shockers found a way to beat those numbers.
A 20-11 edge at the line also helped.
▪ How the game turned: Tulsa, according to the shot chart, made eight shots in the lane for the game.
Five came in the first half, four during a span in which Tulsa cut WSU’s lead from 15-6 to 23-20.
Tulsa’s Corey Henderson missed a layup, bricked a three-pointer and missed a long two. Two more missed threes by Tulsa helped WSU build a 37-20 lead. Twice during that span, missed jumpers led to WSU hustling down court for layups.
Once the Shockers cut off penetration — and the Hurricane neglected to try — the game changed.
▪ Records: Tulsa 0-2, WSU 3-0
▪ Rotation watch: WSU’s Darral Willis played 18 minutes and scored a season-high 16 points and seven rebounds.
At Pearl River (Miss.) Community College, Willis knew he would play most of the game (averaging 28 minutes. He played 30 or more minutes 10 times. He knows that’s not in the plan at WSU.
He credits Chris Jans, a former assistant coach at WSU who now works as a special assistant to coach Gregg Marshall, with helping him buy in to WSU’s rotation. It’s a check-your-ego-at-the-door plan that not everybody desires.
“It’s kind of hard coming from playing a lot of minutes to, sometimes, playing none,” Willis said. “There’s 12 starters and if somebody is going, Coach (Marshall) is going with the guy who is going. I’ve got to come out every night and be going, so I can get some time and play defense.”
Willis will get his minutes as long as his defensive and rebounding is acceptable. He is in position more often now on defense and rebounds regularly with two hands on the ball after regular admonishments from coaches. His offense is impressive, in and out of the lane, and the potential of Willis and Shaq Morris as a post combo is fearsome.
Willis can get used to his role. He can also get used to passing. He recorded two assists and showed a nice knack for finding open teammates. That’s something else he wasn’t often expected to do in junior college.
“I come from junior college, where I was asked to score a lot,” he said. “I really don’t look to pass, but now I’ve got so many guys that are like me. I can pass to somebody. Like Markis (McDuffie), I know if I pass to him he’s going to get fouled or get a bucket. It takes off all the pressure on me. I don’t have to score every time I get the ball. I can get somebody else a shot.”
▪ Somebody said this:
▪ Good: Junior Zach Brown this season — 11 of 22 from the field, 6 of 11 from three, 11 points a game, 4.7 rebounds, 10 assists, two turnovers. On Wednesday — 15 points, five rebounds, three assists, no turnovers.
▪ Bad: Landry Shamet (2 for 11), Conner Frankamp (3 for 11) and Markis McDuffie (1 for 5) are not hot from three. Chalk it up to small sample size.
▪ Numbers guy says: WSU opponents are 11 of 58 from three-point range (19 percent). That ranks 21st nationally, which tells us how many mismatches are scheduled early in the season.
▪ On and on: WSU is 3-0 with three double-digit wins for the fifth time since the 2000-01 season … WSU’s 27-point margin is its largest over the Hurricane since 92-60 win in 1972. … WSU has allowed 52 baskets and forced 55 turnovers this season. … The Shockers extended their home-court win streak to 39 in non-conference games, second nationally behind Duke. WSU has won 24 straight home games in November, all by double digits.
▪ Next up: vs. Maryland Eastern Shore (0-3), 2 p.m. Sunday (Cox 22)
Eastern Shore has losses to George Washington, UMBC and Boston College.
The Hawks are picked eighth in the MEAC with senior Bakari Copeland named to the second-team All-MEAC team in the preseason.