WICHITA — As Wichita State newcomer Darius Carter returned to the bench late in Saturday’s season opener, he made sure to give coach Gregg Marshall a message.
“He told me the practices are so much harder than the games,” Marshall said. “I told him that’s by design.”
No. 16 Wichita State had little difficulty dispatching Emporia State 93-50 behind 21 points from Cleanthony Early and 17 from Ron Baker. Fred VanVleet had 12 points and six assists for Wichita State.
Playing in his hometown, Terrence Moore led Emporia State with 15 points while Kaleb Wright added 12.
The Shockers cruised against Emporia State, an NCAA Division II team playing for the second consecutive day, by shooting 51.7 percent and attempting 22 more free throws than the Hornets.
Baker led the shooting effort by going 7 of 9 from the field and 2 of 3 from 3-point range while adding six assists.
The Shockers were 25 of 33 from the free throw line while Emporia State was 8 of 11.
“We knew they were coming in off no rest,” Baker said. “So we just went at them and wanted to run away.”
The Hornets, who beat Missouri-Kansas City 81-76 on Friday afternoon, kept it close during the first 10 minutes.
Moore hit a 3-pointer and a driving floater in a 35-second span, pulling Emporia State within 18-13 with 10:03 remaining in the first half.
“We just weren’t hitting shots,” Baker said, “and our breakdown offense wasn’t very good in that first 10 minutes.”
Things changed completely after that. The Shockers scored the next eight points, starting with a 3 by VanVleet, and carried that momentum until halftime.
Wichita State scored 31 points in the half’s final 10 minutes, a landslide that produced a 49-26 halftime lead. Much of the credit went to the Shockers’ full-court pressure, which helped force Emporia State into 13 first-half turnovers, nine more than Wichita State.
“We wore down mentally,” Emporia State coach Shaun Vandiver said. “I thought we were fine physically. But we wore down mentally and just didn’t execute.”
Things did not get better for Emporia State after halftime. Quick layups from Early and VanVleet started an 11-2 run that pushed Wichita State’s lead to 60-28.
The Hornets’ points came on a basket by Wright, which would be Emporia State’s only field goal in a span of 10 minutes, including the final 3 of the first half.
The Shockers had 29 points off Emporia State’s 29 turnovers.
“We got our hands on a lot of balls and that provided a lot of scoring opportunities,” Marshall said.
After that, Wichita State used the remaining time to try different combinations of players and different sets. Walk-on Zach Bush entered the game with more than 8 minutes to play.
It was just the type of outcome Marshall desired while starting a span of four home games in eight days.
“That is a good team, and we’ve already been working on Western Kentucky in practice,” Marshall said. “But I was pleased with the way our guys played today. We had a lot we wanted to accomplish before a big week, and we did that.”