WICHITA — It was hard to remember Samajae Haynes-Jones wasn’t playing in the City League anymore.
The breakneck speed, the basketball attached to his hand like a yo-yo, the devastating cuts in transition, it was reminiscent of how Haynes-Jones lit up gymnasiums around Wichita when he was at East High.
Haynes-Jones scored a career-high 31 points — he had 21 at halftime — to provide a bright spot in No. 8 Wichita State’s 112-66 victory over Savannah State on Tuesday night at Koch Arena.
The Shockers improved to 5-1 entering Saturday’s showdown with No. 16 Baylor, which suffered its first loss to No. 21 Xavier by 13 points on Tuesday night.
Shocker fans were encouraged to see Haynes-Jones whip past defenders like they were standing still in transition and connect on 4 of 6 3-point shots. But the coming days will be agonizing, as injuries to key players piled up on Tuesday.
The bad news started before tip-off, when starter Zach Brown joined Markis McDuffie on the bench in street clothes. There was no official word before the game, but Brown reportedly injured his knee in Monday’s practice and his status for the Baylor game is unclear.
The most worrisome injury was late in the first half, when star guard Landry Shamet’s right ankle twisted awkwardly landing on another player’s foot. Shamet limped off the court and watched the second half from the bench, his right ankle heavily wrapped in ice. The injury was not severe enough to immediately rule Shamet out for Saturday.
Throw in minor injuries to Haynes-Jones, who lost a tooth, and Conner Frankamp, who briefly exited the game after sliding awkwardly and grasping at his knee, and it was one of the more anxiety-laced 46-point victories.
While Wichita State eclipsed 100 points for the second time this season, it wasn’t from a crisp performance.
Koch Arena sat in silence as Savannah State launched its way to a 17-12 lead nearly eight minutes into the game. After 12 minutes, WSU’s lead was 29-24. The second half began similarly flat for WSU.
But playing a team that wanted nothing more than to shoot a 3-pointer as quickly as possible, Wichita State had plenty of opportunity to reel off a run. In the final five minutes, WSU scored 21 points in 12 possessions to push its halftime lead to 55-29.
Savannah State is one of the most trigger-happy 3-point shooting teams in college basketball and it reached its peak on Tuesday. The Tigers shattered their program-record in 3-pointers attempted in a game (previously 52) by launching 55 shots from beyond the arc. They made 13 (24 percent).
By rebounding close to 90 percent of those misses, Wichita State was able to finish with 67 rebounds — the fifth-most all-time. Darral Willis grabbed 12 rebounds, while Rashard Kelly added 10.
Outside of Haynes-Jones, WSU had five others in double-digit scoring with Willis (14), Kelly (12), Austin Reaves (12), Frankamp (10), and Rauno Nurger (10).