Rushed Reactions: #1 Wichita State 64, #16 Cal Poly 37Posted by Adam Stillman on March 21st, 2014
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Three Key Takeaways.
- Wichita State did something Florida and Arizona couldn’t. The Shockers, the third #1 seed to play in this season’s NCAA Tournament, didn’t have much trouble with their allotted #16 seed. Florida and Arizona, however, couldn’t say that. Florida didn’t pull away from Albany until late in its game on Thursday, and Arizona was down 7-0 early and won by just single figures against Weber State. Wichita State dominated from the get-go, opening up a 21-5 edge and cruising the rest of the way. The 14-20 Cal Poly Mustangs never mounted any sort of legitimate challenge.
- The Shockers locked down defensively. After an 11-day layoff following their MVC Tournament title win, there was no sign of rust from Wichita State on that end. Instead, a fresh Shocker team hounded Cal Poly all over the floor, all night long. Cal Poly struggled to run any kind of offense, often having to settle for a contested three-pointer at the end of the shot clock. Cal Poly even had an 11-minute field goal drought in the first half. Cal Poly shot just 21 percent from the field for the game, going 12-of-58 from the floor. The Mustangs weren’t any better from three-point range, connecting on just 5-of-28 attempts (18 percent).
- There was one thing the Shockers didn’t do well. This is really nit-picking here, but if there was any concern for Wichita State on Friday night, it came at the foul line. The Shockers went just 12-of-21 (57 percent) from the charity stripe. Obviously it didn’t matter in a game of that nature, and probably is just an aberration for a team that shoots 73 percent from the foul line on the season.
Star of the Game: Cleanthony Early, Wichita State. How does 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting strike you? Oh wait, that was just in the first half alone. The Shocker forward played just five minutes in the second half before calling it a night, finishing with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting in 19 minutes of playing time. Early ouscored Cal Poly by himself in the first half, 19-13, and it took the Mustangs until the 13-minute mark in the second half to tie his output. The Mustangs finally broke the 20-point barrier at the 11:48 mark. Early went 3-of-8 from beyond the arc and also corralled seven rebounds.
Quotable: “That’s one, baby!” — Wichita State guard Nick Wiggins, while walking over to the broadcast row as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Wiggins also got a big ovation from the Kansas fans in the crowd after hitting a three-pointer in the second half. Nick is the older brother of Kansas star forward Andrew Wiggins.
Sights & Sounds: There might have only been a few thousand people in their seats for tip-off, but by the time the Kansas/Eastern Kentucky game ended and the arena was cleared after the first session, it took quite a while before people could re-enter the Scottrade Center. The 35 or so minutes between games wasn’t enough time for fans hoping to catch the first few minutes. It took a good 10 minutes of game time for the arena to really look full again.
Wildcard: Wichita State’s Tekele Cotton is one of four Shockers averaging double figures on the season, but the junior guard went scoreless Friday night for the first time this season. Cotton didn’t exactly hunt his shot, attempting just one field goal — a missed 3-pointer — in 19 minutes of playing time.
What’s Next? Wichita State will take on the winner of #8 Kentucky and #9 Kansas State in the round of 32 on Sunday in St. Louis.