Key statistics: All 14 healthy and eligible Shockers played, with freshman guard Landry Shamet leading the way with 24 minutes. WSU’s bench contributed 48 points and five freshmen combined to score 42 points.
How the game turned: The Shockers trailed 10-3 when the second unit started filtering in and WSU’s pressure defense began to take hold. The Sharks missed six of their next eight shots and committed four turnovers, allowing the Shockers to go up 17-12. One of the luxuries WSU will enjoy this season is throwing fresh, active defenders at teams. Players such as Rashard Kelly and Zach Brown are made for harassing ball-handlers with a press.
Records: Exhibition game
Stat that might surprise you: The Sharks scored 11 second-chance points, three more than WSU.
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Stat that shouldn’t surprise you: WSU last lost an exhibition game before the 2001-02 season, 93-88 to Athletes First.
Freshman watch: This group did nothing to dampen the expectations. That doesn’t mean all of them will play large roles this season. There are limited minutes and college basketball will expose weaknesses these players aren’t fully aware of yet.
They certainly showed the potential, from Landry Shamet’s low-mistake effort to Eric Hamilton’s physical, aggressive play.
Shamet scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting, grabbed four rebounds and handed out two assists. Guard Ty Taylor slowed his pace in the second half and scored 11 points in 18 minutes, making 3 of 7 shots. Markis McDuffie grabbed six rebounds and Hamilton scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds. Walk-on Brett Barney, who will likely redshirt, scored five points.
Much of the playing time for this group will be determined after Conner Frankamp’s arrival on Dec. 12. Shamet played as billed — calm and composed, never looking like a freshman. Taylor, who also had two steals, is a shooting guard trying to learn the role of point guard. Right now, the Shockers don’t need more shooters. He played well in the second half and his quickness can make him a defensive weapon.
Hamilton and McDuffie, who had three assists, are in more of a time crunch with experienced players in front of them, a list that grows when Frankamp becomes eligible and raises the possibility of Ron Baker playing more at small forward.
Why they’re All-Americans: Baker kept the Shockers organized, despite revolving lineups, in his role as point guard. He scored 11 points and helped WSU pull away with back-to-back baskets and an assist to McDuffie that pushed the lead to 23-13. Fred VanVleet did not play because of a strained left hamstring. Coach Gregg Marshall expects him to return to practice this week.
Rotation watch: Sophomore center Shaq Morris started, a good sign for a player who is putting doubts about his work ethic in the rear-view mirror. Marshall would not have rewarded him without good reason. Brown scored twice on drives to the basket, a solid sign for him. He worked hard on his ball-handling skills and the Shockers need a small forward who can drive to the rim. Opponents must respect Brown’s outside shot, which should open lanes to the basket.
Demonstrates mastery of social media:
▪ Taylor watched WSU play Tulsa at Koch Arena on his recruiting visit. He expected a big crowd that day. He wasn’t sure to believe Barney when he told him Saturday’s exhibition game would be packed.
“Brett had been asking me all week if I was thinking about it,” Taylor said. “I really wasn’t thinking about it. I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t think that many people would show up. For an exhibition, I didn’t know if they would support us like this.”
Shamet compared the afternoon to the first day of school.
“I was definitely a little nervous at first,” he said. “Super-excited the night before, had a hard time falling asleep.”
Around the MVC: Drake’s Kale Abrahamson, a transfer from Northwestern, debuted with 22 points, making 5 of 9 threes, in a 95-78 exhibition win over McKendree (Ill.).
Next up: vs. Charleston Southern, 7 p.m. Friday (Cox 22)
Charleston Southern, coached by former Marshall assistant Barclay Radebaugh, is picked eighth in the Big South preseason poll. The Bucs lost five seniors from a team that won the Big South title in 2015. The teams also played in 2012 (a 65-53 Shockers win ) and 2011 (WSU 85-57).