Banners drop, Shockers win

Sports Editor

Head coach Gregg Marshall stared at the videoboard as the pregame highlights began.

As “2014 National Coach of the Year” flashed across the screen, Marshall grinned and looked down the bench at his team.  

The Missouri Valley Conference championship banner dropped in the pregame as well, followed by the NCAA Tournament banner. Then, all focus turned to a brand new season of Shocker basketball.  

The 2014-2015 men’s basketball season began with a bang when Tekele Cotton got a steal and fast-break dunk.   

The Shockers (1-0) led at the half against the New Mexico State Aggies (0-1) by a score of 38-21. Wichita State’s big three of Cotton, Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet outpaced the Aggies by themselves, scoring 24 of Wichita State’s 38 points.  

“I thought the key to the game was the defense by the guards on the perimeter,” Marshall said.  

That perimeter defense put VanVleet in the Shocker history books. He tied the school record for most steals in a single game with seven.   

“We didn’t want to just let them bang it in and bang it in all night,” VanVleet said. “So, we wanted to get out, extend a little bit and just try to disrupt their flow.”  

While the Shockers led the Aggies by 17 points at half, WSU was unable to connect on a 3-point field goal, shooting zero for six. The shooting struggles continued in the second half, but that didn’t stop the Shockers from finishing strong, winning the game 71-54.  

New Mexico State’s Daniel Mullings was the only positive for the Aggies on Friday night. With only five points in the first half, Mullings was able to end the game with 14 points and six rebounds, the only Aggie in double digits.

Cotton finished with 17 points, Baker had 16, Shaquille Morris and Darius Carter added nine points each and VanVleet scored six points with four assists.

WSU will face the Memphis Tigers (0-0) at 1 p.m. on Tuesday in Sioux Falls, S.D. It’s the Tigers first regular season game this year, aside from their preseason loss to Division II Christian Brothers University in overtime of an exhibition game last week.  Memphis head coach Josh Pastner had glowing remarks for the Shockers and Marshall on the Talk Angry podcast. 

“[WSU has] a great program, one of the very best coaches in all of the game of basketball in Coach Marshall,” Pastner said. “He’s definitely one of the top three or four coaches, and that may include in the NBA and college.”   

Key Notes: Freshman wing Zach Brown and junior forward Tevin Glass did not play. Brown and Glass are still possibilities to redshirt this season.

Shocker legend Xavier McDaniel was in Koch Arena on Friday night. In 1973, McDaniel had a tip-in for WSU to win on a buzzer beater against the New Mexico State Aggies.