Where did that come from?
In some ways, the answer is easy. It came from Oklahoma State, which played a great basketball game Saturday at Intrust Bank Arena and waxed Wichita State 93-76. It wasn’t that close.
In other ways, the answer is elusive. This is the Shockers we’re talking about, after all. They don’t give up 93 points, they don’t allow teams to shoot 52.5 percent, they don’t wilt under pressure.
But as soon as OSU jumped out 10-1, it was obvious Wichita State was in trouble. The Shockers never knew what hit them. And in the end, it was WSU that had no answers.
“Watching film over the course of the week, I knew that we were in for a battle,” Shocker coach Gregg Marshall said. “I tried to relay that to my team. They really were good, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we weren’t very good. And it’s the things we pride ourselves that we weren’t very good at — defense, toughness, playing harder than the other team. Those things didn’t happen tonight.”
Can you imagine the lopsidedness of the game if Wichita State doesn’t get to the free-throw line 47 times and make 35? The Shockers beat OSU from the line 35-17. Everywhere else, WSU lost 76-41.
Oklahoma State is coming off a 12-20 season in 2015-16. The Cowboys won three Big 12 games and lost 15. Travis Ford lost his job as coach and is now at Saint Louis.
Enter Brad Underwood, a McPherson native and former Kansas State assistant who made waves at Stephen F. Austin with a couple of impressive seasons. And what a difference in the Pokes.
They have an All-America candidate at point guard in sophomore Jawun Evans, who is flanked by senior Phil Forte. Junior Jeffrey Carroll made 8 of 10 shots and tied Evans for game-high honors with 22.
The 6-foot Evans, who is drawing understandable comparisons to the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, scored 10 points in the game’s first 6:12 before spending most of the first half on the bench with a couple of fouls. Didn’t matter because Underwood has already built a deep team thanks to five freshmen who helped off the bench.
For the first time this season, the Shockers’ bench players were outscored, and easily, 42-22.
At times when Wichita State did seem to pushing in the right direction, the Cowboys pushed back with more force than the Shockers are accustomed to.
WSU’s four guards — Landry Shamet, Daishon Smith, Conner Frankamp and Austin Reaves — made 4 of 20 shots and were at the whim of their Oklahoma State counterparts.
“We got them out of what they wanted to do,” Underwood said.
That’s one way to put it. By halftime, the Shockers probably wanted a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate.
Rarely have 15,000 people been as quiet, or as dumbfounded, as the Intrust Bank Arena gathering. The Shockers had never lost at Intrust Bank Arena and were healthy favorites, according to the bookmakers. Well, the bookmakers took one on the chin, too. Wichita State was inferior.
“That doesn’t happen, it hasn’t happened very often,” Marshall said. “I’m not saying in nine-plus years it hasn’t ever happened, but not to that degree. Not on such a big stage.”
There was simply too much Evans, who missed the final month of the 2015-16 season with a shoulder injury. He’s the best player I’ve seen in a while and it’s going to be fun to see him go against the Kansas duo of Frank Mason and Devonte Graham when Big 12 play begins.
Marshall was impressed.
“What a dude to inherit, man, that guy can play,” he said. “And he can score in so many ways. He was literally toying with us, I felt like. He scored 22 points in 20-something minutes; he could have scored 50 tonight if he wanted to. But he got everybody involved. He scores off the bounce, mid-range. He’s only 6-foot, but man is he good with that ball.”
The Intrust crowd went from being shocked to disappointed to highly entertained by Evans and Oklahoma State, which was rarely bothered by any defense the Shockers put up. OSU did have 17 turnovers, but what does it matter when you make 14 of 28 three-pointers? Evans, Carroll, Leyton Hammonds and Thomas Dziagwa were 12 of 18 from the three-point line.
Oklahoma State led at the half 49-33. The Cowboys led by as many as 24 points in the second half. They got the Shockers down and never let them up and it’s so rare that we’ve seen something like that.
Marshall promised a return to boot camp in practices this week as WSU prepares for its final non-conference opponent, South Dakota State, on Thursday night before beginning Missouri Valley Conference on Dec. 28 at Indiana State.
He was as shell shocked as anyone else.
Kudos to Oklahoma State for this one. The Cowboys looked unbeatable.