ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Landry Shamet is on a mission.
And, the final chapter ends with #21 (AP) Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament.
Now they are one step closer to etching their name into the field of 68.
Despite shooting 37.1 percent, the Shockers (28-4, 17-1) thumped Bradley (13-20, 7-11), 82-56. The only fireworks came at the expense of hard fouls and a mid-court yelling match between head coaches Gregg Marshall and Brian Wardle.
“If we win this tournament, your name is in the NCAA Tournament,” Shamet said. “I would be nice to win the thing and know that we will be in the tournament. That’s kind of our mindset: We don’t want to leave it up to chance.”
The contest was, surprisingly, competitive for 12 minutes. The Braves held their only leads at 2-0 and 4-2.
Wichita State struggled to find any points early. The first Shocker basket came at the 16:11-mark after 8 empty possessions, five of which were the result of turnovers.
Five consecutive points by Rashard Kelly broke the floodgates and supplied a three-point lead.
“We played very well from about the first media time-out on,” said Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall. “[We] had a little jitters at that point early, but after that we shared the basketball. We really rebounded it well. Our defense was very good.”
And the advantage just grew from there.
Back-to-back triples, one from each Conner Frankamp and Markis McDuffie, spurred a 28-6 end of half domination. Frankamp led the charge with nine points during the stretch of eight minutes and thirty seconds while All-Missouri Valley Conference first-teamer Landry Shamet chipped in five.
As the offense was clicking, Wichita State’s defense initiated four turnovers and held Bradley to just one made field goal.
The Shockers advanced their 42-16 halftime lead to 30 points via a McDuffie slam within the first minute.
A triple from Rauno Nurger created a game-high 35-point margin.
Bradley, aside from being peppered gradually, showed flashes of good play in the second half. They shot 48.3 percent and sliced the deficit to 24 with 13:06 remaining.
Freshman Darrell Brown showcased his talent with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting tonight. He is the second first-year guard to score 18+ points against Wichita State’s in the last three games. Sophomores Antoine Pittman and Luuk van Bree contributed 8 and 7 points, respectively.
“[I’m] proud of my team this year. They made big strides for the program,” said Bradley head coach Brian Wardle. “It just wasn’t our day. You’ve got to play well today, and we just didn’t play well overall.”
Wichita State’s frontcourt guided Gregg Marshall’s group. All-newcomer team selection Darral Willis Jr. neared a double-double with 17 points and 7 rebounds while Rashard Kelly had 14 points and 7 rebounds. All-MVC first teamers Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie struggled severely, combining for 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
“This team is really deep. I thought even our third group was effective,” said Marshall. “Kelly gave us a lot of energy. Darral was very efficient tonight offensively.”
Percentage-wise, the Shockers looked nowhere close to a team vying for its second Arch Madness championship in four years.
Tomorrow, #21 (AP) Wichita State will play the winner of tonight’s final quarterfinal between Northern Iowa and Missouri State. College Court Report will have full coverage from Scottrade Center.
– P. Wesner