Charles Koch Arena doesn’t normally top the ever-popular “Toughest places to play” lists of Division I arenas. But in reality, the Wichita State Shockers have been almost unbeatable there over the last few years. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Wichita State is 81-4 at home, good for a .953 winning percentage.
The latest victim: the Saint Louis Billikens. The Shockers defeated Saint Louis 75-45 Tuesday night in a blowout home win that accentuated the magic of the 10,506-seat arena.
The Shockers dominated SLU, holding the Billikens to just nine points (3-29 shooting) in the first half — a school record for defensive prowess. From the opening tip, it was all Shockers, with forwards Darral Willis Jr. (12 points) and Rashard Kelly (15 points, 6-8 shooting) leading the way.
Charles Koch Arena isn’t your typical sports stadium. Rather than the typical upper bowl and lower bowl separated by either luxury boxes or at least a concourse, there is only one level, keeping students and alumni alike close to the court and the ears of opponents.
The smaller stadium design makes the noise coming from the Shocker faithful even louder. SLU players had to practically yell in each other’s ears to be heard. The lights are also rather dim for a college basketball arena, which can impose another issue for opposing teams.
Between the obscure arena design, dim lights, over 10,000 screaming fans, and just the prowess of Wichita State basketball, Charles Koch Arena is a force to be reckoned with in college basketball. Whether it’s a Missouri Valley rival or a non-conference statement game against the Atlantic 10, you can bet whatever team walks into Charles Koch Arena will not have an easy time escaping with a win.
Without a doubt, the fans and environment at Charles Koch Arena will make fellow Missouri Valley members feel their wrath come conference play. It won’t be easy for opponents, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy for Wichita State either. As last week’s Mountain West - Missouri Valley Challenge showed, the Valley has plenty of capable teams. Every home victory has to be earned, but the environment the Shockers get to play in sure does help.
The Shockers host just one more true home game before conference play begins, coming against South Dakota State on Dec. 22.