Key statistics: The Shockers made 18 of 32 shots and 6 of 11 three-pointers in the second half, outscoring the Tigers by 15 points.
How the game turned: Cleanthony Early’s steal and layup, early in the second half, gave WSU its first lead since midway through the first half, 37-36. It started an 11-2 run that included three-point plays by Early and Darius Carter.
Records: WSU 4-0, TSU 0-4
Bob Lutz: Best backcourts in Shocker history? Rank them.
Darius Carter talks about Saturday’s game.
Video recap with a new background.
- Nick Wiggins averages 8.5 points and is making 54.5 percent of his shots (12-22), despite going 3 for 9 from three-point range. That are good numbers and ones that reflect his desire to drive and draw fouls. With Wiggins, offense is never in question. He is playing more minutes (a season-high 20) because of his improved defense. “He’s more engaged,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “He understands that if he doesn’t do it, he doesn’t get a chance to demonstrate all that beautiful athleticism. He seems to have figured that out, and now we’re all beneficiaries.” Wiggins understands his responsibilities on team defense more completely in his second season at WSU. “Trying to get every loose ball,” he said. “Keeping my man in front of me, staying in the gaps, helping Fred (VanVleet) guard point guards. I’ve been working on all that.”
- Center Darius Carter put his hook shot away at the request of Marshall, who prefers moves to the basket that can draw fouls. Carter scored nine points, seven in the second half when he went 3 for 3 from the line. He also passed out of the post, once for a three-point by Tekele Cotton. “I told him I didn’t want any 10-to-12-foot hook shots,” Marshall said. “Tonight, he actually made a couple moves. You’ve got a better chance to get fouled and get an offensive rebound when you don’t fade away.”
- Early scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds and he leads the team in both categories this season. On Saturday, Marshall liked most of what he saw from Early except some chatter. “I just don’t want him talking to officials,” Marshall said. “I thought they did a great job. I didn’t have one problem with the officials the whole game. I don’t want Cle having a problem with them. He’s just got to play. If the officials need some type of running dialogue, I’ll provide that.”
- The Shockers struggled in the first half. Recruit Eric Hamilton watched. You might think those uneven 20 minutes would turn off a player evaluating a team. Hamilton disagreed. “I really enjoyed the fact that they were down in the first half and then the way Coach Marshall handled it by going in there and changing their whole style of play around, coming back out ready to play,” he said. “It shows that a team is down for whatever and they’re not going to give up. That’s definitely something I like. I could definitely tell they made some adjustments.” Hamilton is a 6-8 forward from Duluth, Ga.
- We won’t know if WSU’s first-half deficits the past two games are significant for a few games. If it continues against better opponents, it’s a problem. If not, chalk it up to a weird schedule and the breaks of the games. William & Mary and Tennessee State, in my mind, are better teams than their name brand indicates. I expected William & Mary, with an experienced team, to give the Shockers some problems. Tennessee State had good athletes and a plan. The Tigers presented a tougher opponent than many of the no-return opponents WSU plays.
- The MVC endured a bad Saturday with Northern Iowa losing at George Mason, Loyola blowing a 19-point second half lead to lose at Tulane, Southern Illinois losing at home to Saint Louis and Drake losing at Saint Mary’s. Missouri State’s 96-93 win over Tulsa provided some relief. Today is another big day, with Indiana State at Notre Dame, Bradley at Illinois and Illinois State at Northwestern.
Next up: at Tulsa, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday