The preliminaries are out of the way and No. 16 Wichita State looks equal to expectations after two easy victories over over-matched opponents.
The Shockers opened the regular season with a 93-50 win over NCAA Division II Emporia State on Saturday afternoon at Koch Arena. The Hornets provided better competition than NAIA Oklahoma Baptist, 73-29 exhibition losers a week earlier. The Shockers didn’t make it a rout until late in the first half, when a run of three-pointers and free throws overwhelmed Emporia.
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On Monday night (11:59 p.m.) things get tougher when Western Kentucky visits as part of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon.
Wichita State has done what it can to get ready. Its defense frustrated two lower-level teams. Its offense looks smoother and more explosive than most teams can expect in early November.
Cleanthony Early led Wichita State with 21 point, seven coming at the foul line. Ron Baker added 17, one off his career-high, on seven-of-nine shooting with a career-high six assists. Fred VanVleet added 12 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Wichita State shot 52 percent from the field and committed nine turnovers. It made 25 of 33 fouls shots, outscoring the Hornets from the line by 17 points. Emporia State committed 23 turnovers, leading to 29 points for the Shockers.
Terrence Moore led Emporia State with 15 points.
Wichita State led 28-17 when its offense found another gear. Redshirt freshman Derail Green scored his first points with a long three. Early’s three made it 36-20. Nick Wiggins’ three-point play gave Wichita State a 39-22 edge and Baker’s three made it 42-22.
The Shockers led 49-26 at halftime after making 16 of 21 free throws, courtesy of 16 Hornets fouls. Early scored 13 points, making two of four threes and the Shockers made five of 12 shots behind the arc.
The Hornets committed 13 first-half turnovers, leading to 17 Wichita State points.
Wichita State started the second half on a 15-2 run, going up 64-28 on a basket by Chadrack Lufile.