WICHITA (TNS) — Forget about Conner Frankamp, Landry Shamet, and Austin Reaves.
The sharpshooters for No. 7 Wichita State on Friday were Darral Willis, Shaquille Morris and Rauno Nurger, as the trio of big men scorched the nets at Koch Arena in the season-opening 109-57 rout of Missouri-Kansas City.
The combined 20 feet of posts drilled a combined five three-pointers after making just 17 combined all of last season. Willis, who didn’t connect on a single three-pointer last season, and made his first two shots from distance to start the season.
For a team receiving its highest preseason recognition in three decades, Wichita State looked every bit the part of the Final Four contender while playing a team ranked outside of the top-300 in Ken Pomeroy’s preseason rankings. Wichita State met the standard of excellence on Friday and achieved ruthless efficiency.
It took the Shockers just 15 possessions — a little more than eight minutes — to establish a 26-11 lead over UMKC. This proved to not be a hot streak. Wichita State operated at that this elite level of efficiency for the entire game.
What is a defense supposed to do when Willis, Morris, and Nurger can consistently knock down three-pointers?
What is a defense supposed to do when Frankamp tortures defenders who are expecting a pull-up three-pointer by swooping by them and finishing at the rim, something he rarely did last season?
These are questions the College of Charleston will ponder heading into Monday’s prime-time matchup at Koch Arena.
Wichita State’s offense will surely see some regression against better competition, but Friday was a peek into what the Shockers can do.
Frankamp’s offseason promise to be more aggressive attacking the rim translated, as the senior scored 11 points and handed out nine assists. Samajae Haynes-Jones was a force in transition, as he scored 11 points to go with four rebounds and five assists. And Reaves, who looked slow in the team’s first exhibition, showed no rust in scoring eight points, including a pair of three-pointers, in 16 minutes.
On perhaps another night, the story of the game would have been Shamet successfully recovering from offseason foot surgery in time for the season-opener. He scored 17 points on 5 of 7 shooting, including four three-pointers, and recorded two rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes.
Willis finished with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Morris added 16 points and Nurger had 11.
Wichita State’s defense held UMKC 27 percent shooting, and the Roos scored only four points in the paint. Wichita State scored 47 points in the paint.
After seven minutes in the second half, Wichita State had built a 50-point lead and the sellout crowd began filtering out of Koch Arena.
The final seven minutes finally gave Marshall ammunition he will surely use to motivate his team in the pursuit of perfection. But the unforced turnovers, missed defensive assignments and missed box-outs occurred with the Shockers holding nearly a 60-point lead.
The crowd still found entertainment in the second half whenever freshman big man Asbjorn Midtgaard, already a fan favorite, touched the ball. He scored on his first touch, using a pump fake and a nifty up-and-under move to score two.
Wichita State was also chasing the school record for three-pointers in a game at 15, a mark it has hit twice. Shamet gave WSU its 13th three-pointer with 5:02 remaining, but it did not make another.
While Marshall decided to use Midtgaard, he decided to use a redshirt on the team’s other freshman, forward Rod Brown, who was not in uniform for the game. Sophomore guard CJ Keyser was also not in uniform for the third straight time – the school has said he is sitting out while he resolves a personal issue.