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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.