Pitt men's basketball notebook: Wichita State hits 55 early, wins with ease
SALT LAKE CITY — Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said the Shockers jokingly talked about how the first team to score 55 points, Wichita State or Pitt, would win their NCAA West Region second-round game.
The Shockers got there with 5:19 remaining on a dunk by Cleanthony Early. The Panthers finished with 55 points.
It's no wonder Marshall said defense was the story of Wichita State's 73-55 victory Thursday.
It marked Pitt's second-lowest first-half total (21), its second-lowest shooting percentage (35.2 percent) and second-lowest point total — only Notre Dame held Pitt to fewer points (42) this season.
Wichita State also won the rebounding battle, 37-32, with 11 offensive boards. Pitt shot 5.9 percent (1 of 17) from 3-point range.
It marked the 17th time Wichita State held an opponent to fewer than 60 points this season. The Shockers are 15-2 when doing so.
“We win by shooting 39 percent,” Marshall said, “but to hold them to 35 percent and outrebound them by five and to hold them to 6 percent at the 3-point line speaks to the rebounding ability and the defensive intensity and passion.”
• Wichita State had 10 steals against Pitt, and is 7-1 this season when it has double-digit steals. Six of those came in the first half. Sophomore Tekele Cotton, who coveredTray Woodall, had five steals. “He's got a big heart,” Wichita State guard Malcolm Armstead said of Cotton. “He's strong, athletic, stronger than he looks, maybe like a free safety. He can guard positions one through four. And he has a big heart, and his desire and will to defend is crazy.”
• Marshall was asked about the magnitude of a Missouri Valley Conference team beating a Big East opponent so soundly, given that eight teams from the latter conference were selected for the NCAA Tournament. “Well, you know, we lost a team in our league to the new Big East just (Wednesday), so maybe we should be the ones going to the Big East,” Marshall said, noting that MVC champion Creighton, along with Atlantic 10 schools Butler and Xavier, is leaving to join the seven Catholic schools. “I'm not advocating any of that. I just thought our guys were very focused and were ready to play against a great team.”
• Pitt has an 0-5 record as a No. 8 seed since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985.
— Kevin Gorman