WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — After watching his team get blown out fairly quickly, Houston coach Kelvin Sampson wished he had spent Thursday night at the movies.
He felt like he was in one as No. 9 Wichita State cruised past his Cougars 81-63.
“You know that movie ‘Gladiator’?” he asked. “I felt like one of those guys, like they just threw us in the middle of the ring with no chance.”
Wichita State (12-2, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) made nine of its first 11 3-point shots, led by as many as 25 in the first half and by 32 with 6:32 remaining.
Landry Shamet scored 18 points in just 22 minutes to lead the Shockers — “Easily the best player we’ve faced this season,” Sampson said — but Wichita State had four players in double figures before halftime.
Starting guards Shamet and Conner Frankamp (15 points) were a combined 12 of 15 from the field.
Shaquille Morris scored 14 points for the Shockers while Markis McDuffie added 11.
Rob Gray led Houston (12-3, 2-1 American) with 13 points, six below his season average. He was 6 of 14 from the field. Corey Davis scored 12 points for the Cougars, and Wes Van Beck had 11.
Shockers players and coaches credited Zach Brown, a Houston native, with leading the defensive effort.
“Our guys really followed the defensive game plan,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. “Zach did a great job on Gray. Zach was tremendous.”
Wichita State led 53-32 at halftime, going 10 of 16 from the 3-point line to build that lead. The Shockers had 14 assists and five turnovers in the first half.
“We were doing a great job of moving and getting open shots, which Coach has been harping on,” Frankamp said. “That made a big difference.”
The Shockers quickly built on that monster first half. Shamet’s dunk with 18:02 remaining gave Wichita State a 62-32 lead.
Brown’s 3-pointer with 15:32 remaining was Wichita State’s 12th 3-pointer of the game, three shy of the school record.
Marshall started inserting seldom used players off his bench with 9 minutes remaining.
“That probably hurt us a bit, took away the momentum,” Marshall said. “But it was good to be in that position.”
The Shockers finished 12 of 27 from the 3-point line while Houston was 4 of 15.
PROUD TO BE
This was Wichita State’s first home game as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
Sampson lauded the addition, saying he has always respected the Wichita area for basketball since his days as the head coach at Oklahoma.
“There was an electricity in the building tonight,” Sampson said. “Wichita State will do fine in our league. They would be good in any league, 1-2-3 in any league in America.”
After missing the season’s first 11 games with a foot injury, McDuffie was 2 of 10 from the field in his first two games.
McDuffie broke out of that slump quickly Thursday night. In his first minute of action off the bench, McDuffie hit a 3-point shot while being fouled, made the free throw and added another 3-pointer.
“I was just hyped,” McDuffie said. “I just kept telling myself that’s what I do.”
That first minute was the highlight for McDuffie, who finished 3 of 7 from the field in 13 minutes.
Houston: The Cougars lost to a hot-shooting Wichita State team but get another chance at the Shockers on Jan. 20.
Wichita State: The Shockers have not had an overabundance of games looking like a top 10 team and needed one.
Houston: The Cougars play host to Tulsa on Jan. 11.
Wichita State: The Shockers host South Florida on Sunday.