Key statistics: The Tigers committed 11 first-half turnovers and made seven shots, failing to take advantage of WSU’s subpar shooting and trailed 29-22. Memphis forward Shaq Goodwin committed two fouls in the game’s first four minutes and finished with four points. His absence for most of the first half damaged his team’s chance to take advantage of its height in the lane.
Records: Memphis 0-1, WSU 2-0
How the game turned: You can find Tekele Cotton’s dunk all over the Internet and ESPN. That helped, although the Shockers were due for a game-deciding run because of Memphis’ problems passing and dribbling. WSU made 4 of 10 threes in the second half, enough to pull away from the turnover-prone Tigers.
Stat that shouldn’t surprise you: WSU guard Fred VanVleet played 31 minutes and didn’t turn the ball over, one reason the Shockers took 13 more shots than Memphis. Both teams shot 40 percent from the field. WSU made 25 baskets off 13 assists with 13 turnovers. Memphis made 20 baskets off four assists with 24 turnovers.
Stat that might surprise you: VanVleet, Cotton and Ron Baker are a combined 3 for 19 from three-point range in two games.
Next up: vs. Newman, 2 p.m. Sunday (Cox 22)
Words, video, photos from Kansas.com
Coverage from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader
From the Memphis Commercial Appeal
▪ Wichita State’s excellent defense is covered elsewhere, so let’s sum up by stating that the Shockers forced 44 turnovers in two games and allowed opponents to make 36 baskets. Both New Mexico State (20 turnovers, 16 baskets) and Memphis (24, 20) committed more turnovers than they made field goals. Last season’s team did that twice - Emporia State (24, 19) in its opener and against Drake (20, 18). The 2013 Shockers did it to three straight opponents - Howard (27, 17), DePaul (16, 15) and Iowa (14, 12). In 2012, the Shockers stuck Charleston Southern (23, 18), Chicago State (19, 15), Newman (20, 18), Bradley (16, 14) and Southern Illinois (22, 17). It’s not as rare an event as I would have guessed, but you could argue New Mexico State and Memphis, despite their struggles, are the most accomplished teams on that list.
▪ Memphis coach Josh Pastner contemplated changes after the game - slowing the pace, trying new players at guard and more. He said he thought his guards played scared. The Shockers had eight steals, which in his mind meant the Tigers gave away numerous unforced violations. “The three guys that played point guard … had one assist and 11 turnovers,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. “We’ve got to be better. We just cannot afford these kind of turnovers.” The difference in the teams can be summed up in the second-half play when WSU trapped a Tigers guard and forced Goodwin to dribble up court. Instead of finding a guard, Goodwin drove to the basket and turned the ball over.
▪ Not surprisingly, many of WSU’s newcomers didn’t travel well. An adjustment is to be expected when playing away from home for the first time, and against a good opponent. Shaq Morris gave WSU 16 solid minutes and Ria’n Holland made a second-half three-pointer that blunted a minor Memphis uprising. Rashard Kelly, Rauno Nurger and Bush Wamukota looked sped up and uncomfortable to different degrees. Nurger needlessly shuffled his feet for a traveling violation midway through the first half. Wamukota played five minutes, all in the second half, and committed two turnovers and fouled twice. Kelly allowed Nick King to beat him to a good spot in the lane and gave up a three-point play in the first half. “I have to be as much of a leader as I can every day and showing them what I learned last year,” senior Darius Carter said. “I have to talk to them off the floor, make sure they’re getting better.” Tuesday represented a good learning experience for WSU’s newcomers and they play two home games before heading to Utah for WSU’s first true road game. That Dec. 3 game will be another important marker for WSU’s newcomers.
▪ It’s a little difficult to judge WSU’s half-court offense, because the Shockers haven’t needed much. They force so many turnovers, their offense feasts on easy baskets. In two games, WSU has scored 53 of its 142 points off turnovers. WSU is shooting 14.8 percent from three-point range (4-27) and 66.7 percent from the line (26-39). One day, WSU will face players who can dribble and run an offense without making mistakes. WSU did appear to get good shots in the second half against Memphis, and every offense looks better when three-pointers drop into the net.
▪ The MVC is off to an uneven start. Northern Iowa’s win at Stephen F. Austin is strong and it was interesting to see freshman guard Wyatt Lohaus play 27 minutes and score nine points, with no turnovers, on the road. UNI coach Ben Jacobson spoke highly of Lohaus before the season and the rooke has built up a lot of trust in a short time. Home losses to Saint Louis (Indiana State), Texas-Arlington (Bradley) and Utah State (Illinois State) are disappointing.