Question marks surrounded Wichita State heading into this season with 12 newcomers.
They managed to answer at least some of those questions with an opening 79-55 victory over Central Arkansas.
The Shockers set the tone early with an 11-0 run fueled by defense and the crowd, with Porter and Walton active on both ends. When Central Arkansas clawed back to make it 14-10, the bench came in and kept up the intensity to put the game away early.
The Bears never managed to lead and that 6-0 run to cut the lead to 4 was their biggest offensive spurt of the night. Rebounding was the only thing that went right for Anthony Bone’s squad – they only lost the rebounding battle 47-42 against a much bigger Shocker squad.
Starting point guard Craig Porter Jr. more than lived up to the hype, scoring 16 in the first half and providing a calming presence for the offense when on the court. He scored when the team struggled to find an opening and helped get several of his teammates going. Porter finished with a game and career high 22 points.
Quincy Ballard made an instant impact as well – blocking 2 shots in limited minutes before the half. In the second half the Florida State transfer showed the chemistry he’s built with his new teammates, catching several lobs on his way to a career high 10 point performance.
When the Shockers needed a stop, Jaykwon Walton showed excellent poise by getting in to passing lanes and blocking a shot. Walton also added 5 rebounds in a performance reminiscent of several Shocker defensive greats.
However, not every question was answered for third year head coach Isaac Brown. The shooting guard position left much to be desired, with Xavier Bell and Jaron Pierre Jr combining to shoot 3-14 from the field and 0-7 from 3.
Wichita State managed just 29% (6-21) from three, a very discouraging start for a team that struggled to shoot the ball for much of the year last season.
Brown and the fans will no doubt be satisfied with covering the spread and starting the year with a cruise-control victory. There is still work to be done for Wichita State and only time will tell if this team can exceed their 8th place AAC prediction.