Wichita State did what Wichita State does. When someone comes into Koch Arena, they walk away with a loss. It doesn't matter what league that team is from.
The Shockers welcomed an undefeated Seton Hall team into their house, and then sent the Pirates packing with their first loss of the season, 77-68. Of course this was mostly accomplished through punishing defense which allowed Wichita State to run its lead to 20 points late in the second half.
So what did we learn from yet another dominant performance by Wichita State?
1. Wichita State looks like it has a cruise control mode this season: It finally looks like Gregg Marshall is willing to take his foot off the accelerator this season. Last year, during the run to an undefeated regular season, Wichita State pressed and played its own version of 40 minutes of hell against teams. There was no let up; there was no chance to breathe. In this game, the Shockers seemed willing to let things relax a little bit near the end of the game -- part of the reason that the final margin was just nine points instead of double digits.
They haven't perfected this mode yet. They haven't yet gotten to the point where they can relax, yet still get the same transition baskets and precision play that they are known for. That will come with time. That they can even do this year though is a major improvement, and could help them stay fresh deep into the NCAA Tournament this season.
2. The Shockers still have the ability to force teams into bad mistakes: One example is all that is needed to illustrate this. Heading deep into the game, the Shockers were looking to run down the clock against the Pirates. They dribbled the ball around and moved it just enough to get the shot clock down into the single digits.
With the home crowd chanting the seconds off the clock, Wichita State picked up the tempo as if it just could kick on that gear at any point in time. They moved the ball to Fred Van Vleet who drove and then kicked out to Darius Carter, who slammed home a dunk just as the shot clock would have expired.
And in the process, they drew a foul from Rashed Anthony. In a situation where the most important thing for Seton Hall is limiting mistakes, and not giving the Shockers extra chances, the Pirates did the unspeakable. They fouled after allowing 35 seconds to run off the clock and the Wichita State player scored in the process. It didn't quite hurt as badly as it could because Carter missed the free throw.
But this shows just how much the tempo and exacting play of the Shockers can do to their opponents. Some things never change.
3. Gregg Marshall doesn't seem comfortable yet having a lineup without Ron Baker or Van Vleet on the floor: With a 20-point lead, or even a 15-point lead, it might seem prudent to give the two most important players for your success a rest. But Marshall seems reluctant to yet allow anyone else to lead the Shockers offense on the floor.
It is logical to feel that way. Either one of those players is an extension of their coach in different way. Baker is cool and collected, the shooter who can silently drive the team on. Van Vleet has all the spunk of his coach and the tenacity that you see on the sidelines embodied on the floor.
These guys are going to need to be fresh for Wichita State to succeed moving forward. Plus, the team needs to develop its younger players into the leaders that Baker and Van Vleet have become. At some point, the security blanket of these two will need to be put in the drawer.
Tonight seemed like a good time to do that. Maybe it will happen soon.