Key statistics: Wichita State scored 98 points, the most against an NCAA Division I team since a 102-46 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore in 2006. Coach Gregg Marshall’s teams have cracked 100 twice against Newman. His previous high against an NCAA Division I team was 94 against Detroit and Chicago State.
The Shockers did this by making a record 44 foul shots (on 62 attempts). More important, perhaps more sustainable, they made a season-high 51.1 percent of their shots. Marshall simplified his offense to give it more room to operate within the 30-second clock, his big men played aggressively and Nevada’s defense accommodated Fred VanVleet’s drives to the basket.
That is a good offensive night for a team that needed one.
VanVleet won his 100th game, joining three Gonzaga players on the active list with 100 or more wins.
How the game turned: Shockers center Shaq Morris scored the game’s first two baskets, blocked a shot and passed to Evan Wessel for a layup to give WSU an 8-7 lead.
That sequence started WSU’s big men on their way to a productive night. Morris scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds. Anton Grady finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
“I thought Wichita State’s bigs were composed and had good shot selection,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “They didn’t force any shots inside. I thought both of those guys were really good for them.”
The Wolf Pack entered the game averaging 7.3 blocks a game, a stat that is somewhat misleading because center A.J. West, one of their top shot-blockers, is no longer on the team. Regardless, the Shockers wanted to take the ball strong to the basket.
“The bigs did a great job being aggressive and attacking their inside presence,” Grady said. “We just did a great job as a team just attacking their strength and that took it away from them.”
Nevada lost the rebounding battle for the first time this season, 38-33.
Records: Nevada 8-4, WSU 6-5
Stat that might surprise you: WSU made 51.1 percent of its shots against a team that held its first 11 opponents to 37.2 percent shooting.
Stat that shouldn’t surprise you: VanVleet bounced back from committing a career-high six turnovers against Seton Hall with six assists and one turnover.
Freshman watch: Markis McDuffie missed all four of his three-pointers and scored three points. Eric Hamilton played for the first time since Dec. 6 and scored six points. Guard Ty Taylor sat out with an injured right shoulder — he said it popped out during Monday’s practice — and plans to play against New Mexico State.
Why they’re All-Americans: VanVleet correctly read the tone of the night and the gaps in the Nevada defense to drive, drive, drive. He made 10 of 12 free throws and scored 13 points. Baker played a refreshing 19 minutes and scored 17 points, to go with five rebounds, two steals and a block. He made all seven of his foul shots.
Rotation watch: Morris and Grady grabbed the important minutes in the post. John Robert Simon earned some run in the first half and responded with a three-pointer.
It’s nice to send the reserves home for Christmas after playing a few minutes and Simon, Zach Bush and Eric Hamilton all got more time than in recent games.
Ty Taylor (shoulder) and Bush Wamukota (indefinite suspension) didn’t play. Taylor said he expects to play against New Mexico State on Dec. 28. WSU coach Gregg Marshall said he isn’t sure when Wamukota, who ran afoul of team academic rules, will play.
Wamukota, who sat on the bench Tuesday, is also battling back stiffness. His long-term absence would rob WSU of a valuable defender and rebounder. If Grady and Morris are as productive as they were on Tuesday, his minutes will be limited.
Around the MVC:
Northern Iowa followed up its win over Iowa State with a 68-52 loss to Hawaii in the Diamond Head Classic. The loss robs UNI of a chance to play Oklahoma.
The Panthers play Washington State and either BYU or New Mexico. Beating the Cougars is a must to avoid a bad loss for the Panthers, who already dropped a home game to Colorado State.
New Mexico defeated UNI 76-57 earlier this season at The Pit.
Missouri State had been showing some progress with wins over Oklahoma State and Oral Roberts. Then the Bears flopped on Tuesday with one of the Valley’s worst losses in years. It certainly put a capper on a disappointing non-conference season.
Southeast Missouri State, 0-10 with losses to Alabama A&M, Texas Rio Grande Valley (formerly Texas-Pan American) and Northern Kentucky, came into JQH Arena with an RPI ranked No. 319 and beat the Bears 78-74.
This is not what MSU envisioned when it built $67 million JQH Arena in 2008.
Next up: vs. New Mexico State, 7 p.m. Monday (Cox Kansas, KEYN 103.7-FM)
The Aggies are 7-5 entering Wednesday’s game at Baylor. Their best win is over Oral Roberts (No. 65 in the RPI). Its six other wins are over teams ranked No. 188 or lower.
Turnovers are an issue for the Aggies, who are minus-3 in turnover margin. They end more than 20 percent of their possessions with a turnover, a rate that ranks No. 288 in the nation. They are holding opponents to 39.9 percent shooting.
F Pascal Siakam and G Ian Baker have scored 53 percent of New Mexico State’s points. Siakam has taken 197 of his team’s 703 shots and has 12 assists and 32 turnovers.
This is the second of a two-season buy-game series for WSU, which defeated the Aggies 71-54 last season in a game memorable for VanVleet grabbing seven steals.