There is a reason Wichita State is the No.8 team in the nation and they rebounded in a big way after losing their first regular season game since March 2013. The Shockers destroyed the Saint Louis Billikens 81-52 with a career high 15 points from guard Evan Wessel. Ron Baker contributed 18 points as the Shockers shot 53.6 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from 3-point range. It was an impressive bounce back win for the Shockers.
If you are a Saint Louis fan, you are likely going to need a stiff drink after this game. The Billikens looked lost on the floor tonight. They struggled to get anything going on the offensive end of the floor and Bills defense struggled against the experienced Shockers team. SLU shot 35.7 percent from the field and had 15 turnovers against the Shockers team. Even worse for the Billikens, Austin McBroom's 3 points were the most points by a Bills starter. It was a rough night for SLU.
The Shockers dominated from the outset. Wichita State guard Evan Wessel, who did not score in regulation during the Utah game, opened the game with a quick 3-pointer. The Shockers took an early 9-5 lead. He was 4-5 from the field in the first half hitting three 3-pointers. Wessel’s offensive production was a huge spark for the Shockers, but they were dominate on the defensive end as well.
Defensively, Wichita State forced six turnovers, but more importantly, they limited the Billikens to only one shot on most of their offensive possessions in the first half. The Shockers outrebounded the Billikens 19-5 in the first half. It was their defensive pressure that forced Saint Louis into many numerous mistakes and the Bills were unable to get settled into the game.
Saint Louis looked lost out on the floor. They have not seen this level of competition this season and Wichita State is, without doubt, the strongest non-conference opponent they will face this season. The young freshmen and starters made ill-advised passes and even when they had good looks, the Wichita State pressure would create problems all game.
A 10-1 run is how the Shockers began to pull away in this game. Guards Tekele Cotton and Fred Van Vleet drove the ball into the lane against the young Billiken front line. They out muscled and out hustled the Billikens to create this run forced SLU’s Head Coach Jim Crews to call a timeout.
Another 8-0 run by Wichita State increased the lead to over 20 points. Saint Louis seemed lost, they had no clue what had hit them. The Shockers had experience on their side while the Billikens are in a complete rebuilding phase for their program. Still, the Billikens briefly stunned the Shockers momentum, but they were still down 20 points at halftime.
In the second half, Wichita State put the game away with a 13-0 run as Ron Baker opened the run with 5 straight point. The Shocker run was capped off by a huge dunk by Cotton. After that point, Saint Louis pulled its starters and allowed their freshmen to get some playing time to gain some experience.
If there was a lone bright spot for the Billikens, it was an all-freshmen lineup with guard Marcus Bartley, guard Miles Reynolds, forward Milik Yarbrough, forward Brett Jolly and center Austin Gillmann that played relatively well together. However, they were playing against mostly bench players for Wichita State, but they were more productive than Saint Louis’ starting lineup.
Wichita State will continue to march along in their non-conference schedule as they will play the Seton Hall Pirates on Tuesday Dec. 9th at 7 p.m. eastern time. Saint Louis will return home to play South Dakota States on Tuesday Dec. 9th at 8 p.m. eastern time.