When Wichita State started hot against Seton Hall, the only question for the Pirates was if they could keep it reasonable while they found their shot. It was so bad that even the bunnies wouldn't go in.
And with a Khadeen Carrington 3-point shot followed by two Isaiah Whitehead free throws, Seton Hall was able to cut an 11-point deficit to six in the final minute of the first half. The Pirates went to the locker room down eight, with with a head of steam.
It ultimately took overtime, but that head of steam powered the engine of the Seton Hall ship past Wichita State, 80-76.
It certainly didn't look as if that would be the case in the opening minutes. For the first time all season, the Shockers had an inside game. Shaq Morris scored six of the first eight points for Wichita State which caused the Seton Hall defense to concentrate into the paint. That left the 3-point line wide open and the Shockers took advantage of one of its strengths: making that extra pass to find the open man who can knock down the open three.
The early barrage had Wichita State looking like it had finally returned to the form that was expected of the Shockers this year. But a 60 percent shooting percentage wasn't going to last, and Seton Hall's defense was not going to stay soft for long.
After the break, the Pirates were able to slow the tempo and pressure Wichita State. The ball rarely made it inside again to the big men. The Shockers forwards scored just one basket in the paint after the Morris madness to begin the game, and any other success was either Fred VanVleet or Ron Baker pushing the ball inside and hoping for the foul.
The Shockers had to live outside the 3-point line, and almost did well enough from deep and at the free throw line to survive. They would shoot 14-for-30 from 3-point range, and took almost 50 percent of their attempts from deep.
But it was the turnovers -- especially the ones that came from VanVleet and Baker trying to figure out how to spark the rest of the team -- that were the ultimate undoing. Wichita State lost the ball 21 times, 13 of those steals by Seton Hall. Carrington was especially dangerous, playing fearless ball in the second half, even when saddled with four fouls. He was willing to risk disqualification by standing in the way to draw the charge, or just grab the ball out of an unsuspecting Shocker player's hands.
Wichita State eventually ran out of gas, something you never expect to have to say about a Shockers team. The loss cost them their final chance to score a good win prior to conference season, and drops them to 5-5.
There will be much to work on for the Shockers with Nevada and New Mexico State coming into town. They need to develop a third option, even if that player changes from game to game. They need to find a way to open up an inside game, although maybe that will happen with Anton Grady finally healthy and back on the floor. And they need to get back that killer instinct that kept opponents from coming back on them over the past couple of seasons.
They need to unleash that junk yard dog mentality again, or March won't end in the NCAA Tournament for this team.