WICHITA, Kan. – No. 17/16 Wichita State’s bench scored 50 of the team’s 81 points to pull away from UCF, 81-62, Thursday night in Charles Koch Arena.
Wichita State (16-4, 6-2) head coach Gregg Marshall switched up the starting lineup to help end a two-game skid in the first-ever meeting with UCF.
Shaquille Morris led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting in 21 minutes to pace the non-starters. Morris also added six boards and two assists in his 100th career win. He is just the seventh player in school history to join the club after Rashard Kelly did it earlier this season.
Darral Willis Jr. added 12 points and nine rebounds. Austin Reaves chipped in nine points, six rebounds and three assists and Kelly just missed a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds. It marks his second straight game with 10 rebounds and sixth game of the season grabbing double-digit boards.
The Shockers overcame a slow night from beyond the arc (5-of-18) to shoot 43.5 percent overall. Wichita State also made the most of its attempts from the free throw line, going 22-of-30, while also committing only six turnovers.
Dayon Griffin paced the Knights with 15 points and B.J. Taylor added 12 points, but needed 15 attempts.
Landry Shamet was on the dishing end of two straight alley-oops, one to Zach Brown and the other to Morris, to give the Shockers an early 12-6 lead. UCF hit just three of its first 10 attempts to start the game.
The pace began to pick up near the midway point behind a scoring lift off the bench from Willis and a triple from Conner Frankamp, as Wichita State led 26-18 with 7:15 remaining in the half. Twenty of Wichita State’s 26 points came from the bench after Marshall shook up the starting lineup.
With 4:30 to go, the Shockers pushed their lead to double-digits after UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins picked up a technical foul. The possession turned into a four-point trip with two more Samajae Haynes-Jones free throws. Wichita State led 31-18 thanks to the Knights going scoreless for nearly five minutes.
A step-back three from Morris gave Wichita State its largest lead of the half, 36-20, at the 2:35 mark.
UCF then fought back with a lightning quick 10-1 run to cut the lead to seven and would go into the locker room trailing by eight, 39-31.
Morris sparked the Shocker offense with nine first half points off the bench. Wichita State shot 40 percent from the field and held the Knights to just 34 percent.
Four straight points from Morris highlighted by a ferocious slam pushed the Shocker lead back to 13 not even four minutes into the second half, forcing a UCF timeout.
Over the next eight-plus minutes Wichita State’s lead continued to hover around 14 with Morris providing a large chunk of the scoring. A corner trey from Haynes-Jones made it 63-49 with 8:20 to go in the game.
Wichita State’s lead grew to 18 (72-54) with 3:45 left on the clock after a Frankamp 15-foot jumper from the left wing. Willis gave the Shockers their largest lead of the game (21) in the final seconds.