The College of Charleston entered Monday’s night primetime showdown with No. 6 Wichita State at Koch Arena the favorite to win its conference with all five starters back from a 25-win team that took pride in its defense.
Not that you could tell against the Shockers.
Right now Wichita State is scorching any defense set in front of it and the scary thing is the defense may be playing even better. The Shockers delivered another dominant performance in a 81-63 thumping of Charleston in front of a sold-out crowd and a national audience on CBS Sports Network.
Wichita State (2-0) built a 30-point lead before Charleston whittled it in the final minutes.
The big-man trio of Shaquille Morris, Darral Willis, and Rauno Nurger combined for 48 points and 22 rebounds. Samajae Haynes-Jones dished out seven assists off the bench and WSU finished with 17 assists on 28 field goals.
Gregg Marshall said before the game that Wichita State would have to out-execute Charleston because Charleston’s head coach, Earl Grant, and director of basketball operations, Matt Braeuer, both coached with Marshall at Wichita State and are well-versed in his system.
That didn’t matter much on Monday, as Wichita State shredded a Charleston defense that ranked No. 55 in efficiency last season. The Shockers finished shooting 48 percent from the field and 82 percent from the free-throw line, while out-rebounding Charleston 44-27.
It took nearly eight minutes for the offense to pick up, but Conner Frankamp’s three-pointer looping around a pair of screens on the left wing with 12:07 remaining jump started a 9-0 spurt that put the Shockers ahead 23-9. Morris scored on back-to-back possessions, then Nurger capped the 2-minute run with a lay-in.
Given a double-digit lead, Wichita State’s defense sunk its teeth into a Charleston offense that wasn’t interested in testing Wichita State’s interior defense. Charleston scored just two points in the paint in the first half and consistently settled for long jump shots and three-pointers.
The result was 22-percent shooting from the field, 25-percent shooting from distance, and eight turnovers in the first half. Holding Charleston to 22 points in 35 possessions would have been good enough on a night when Wichita State’s offense was merely average.
Wichita State put the game away in the final three minutes of the half when Marshall paired three ball handlers in Frankamp, Haynes-Jones, and Austin Reaves with a pair of centers in Morris and Nurger.
Wichita State will head into the Maui Invitational next week.