The Wichita State Shockers defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores, 70-50, Tuesday night in the No. 11 seed play-in game at University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio, to set up a round-of-64 showdown with No. 6 seed Arizona on Thursday in Providence, Rhode Island.
According to the Tennessean's Adam Sparks, Vanderbilt has now gone one-and-done in four of its past five NCAA tournament appearances.
Get ready Arizona! Wichita State beats Vanderbilt in the First Four and will face the Wildcats on Thursday! pic.twitter.com/RsDrLZ2dCi— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 16, 2016
Although offense didn't always come easily, Wichita State leaned on veteran scorers Fred VanVleet (14 points) and Ron Baker (14 points) on a night when the Shockers shot 37.3 percent from the floor.
Anton Grady and Conner Frankamp were also solid off the bench with 11 and eight points, respectively, as nine Wichita State players entered the scoring column.
Conversely, Vanderbilt shot 30.2 percent from the field and a putrid 3-of-19 from three-point range, as ESPN Stats & Info displayed on Twitter:
Wichita State held Vanderbilt to 3-of-19 (15.8%) on 3-pointers, lowest for the Commodores this season pic.twitter.com/DLTUafOuCL— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 16, 2016
Although Wichita State ended the game with a flurry of buckets as Vanderbilt went ice-cold, the first half ended with the score knotted at 30, which was hardly a surprise given the style of play each side has been accustomed to playing.
Vanderbilt and Wichita State ranked 166th and 294th, respectively, in possessions generated per 40 minutes entering Tuesday night, according to TeamRankings.com, and those tendencies mixed in with some tenacious defense made for a low-scoring affair.
Neither side topped 38 percent shooting from the field in the first half, and points were largely churned out in deliberate, well-diagramed half-court sets, as the following bucket from Joe Toye illustrated:
Vandy's Joe Toye with the strong finish 💪🏼 https://t.co/I8M4En6Ogd— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 16, 2016
To say Toye's emergence was unforeseen would be an understatement. The freshman guard entered Tuesday night with a grand total of 98 points to his name this season, but he tied his season high in the first half alone as he paced the Commodores with 10 points off the pine.
However, Vanderbilt found little in the way of offensive consistency when Toye wasn't on the court. Not only did the 'Dores shoot 2-of-10 from three over the game's first 20 minutes, but they also missed eight free throws that could have helped create some much-needed separation from the feisty Shockers.
With Vanderbilt's offense grasping for straws, Wichita State busted out of the locker room and took advantage to the tune of an 11-0 run over the first four minutes, 35 seconds of the second half.
Wichita State's Shaq Morris with AUTHORITY! https://t.co/J188zVCn1l— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 16, 2016
Led by VanVleet's veteran voice and Baker's scoring touch, the Shockers found some familiar stability that Vanderbilt had a tough time solving, as CBS Sports' Sam Vecenie noted:
Key for Vandy going forward here: stop leaving Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet wide open.— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 16, 2016
No seriously, that’s something that needs to be said.
Vanderbilt cut Wichita State's lead to one just over midway through the second half, but head coach Gregg Marshall's side ripped off a 17-2 run buoyed by a pair of three-pointers from Frankamp to help create some sustainable separation.
After shooting 0-of-5 from three throughout the first half, the Shockers went on to nail seven of 14 triples in the second stanza to help give the offense balance.
Now it's on to Providence, where the Shockers will try to pull off the upset against No. 6 Arizona. Based on Tuesday's performance and a season's worth of evidence, Wichita State should be considered a dangerous foe.
Arizona packs impressive punch thanks to scorers such as Ryan Anderson, Gabe York, Allonzo Trier and Kaleb Tarczewski, but Wichita State's seasoned squad has a knack for locking down on defense. That could give the Wildcats fits, as Yahoo Sports' Brad Evans explained:
Absolute key in Wichita/Arizona matchup: Turnover game. Wildcats coughed it up nearly 18% of time. Shockers thrive off mistakes.— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) March 16, 2016
A disciplined team that's just three years removed from a Final Four appearance, Wichita State should be viewed as a legitimate threat to make a deep run even if its style of play isn't always highlight-worthy.
Now that they've qualified for the round of 64 and have a chance to make amends for an up-and-down regular season, the Shockers need to be taken seriously regardless of the seed beside their name.
"I'm not a stitch guy," VanVleet told the truTV broadcast of the cut on his eye, per NBC Sports' Rob Dauster. "I'll just butterfly it up. It's going to take a lot more than this to keep me from playing."
Speaking to reporters after the game, Marshall noted his team just needed some time to work out the kinks on offense.
"We finally got the lid off the basket in the 2nd half," he said, per Sparks.
"I'm surprised, disappointed," Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said, according to Sparks. "Our guys didn't want to play like that."
"I told our team that this wouldn't be an easy offensive game," Stallings added, per Sparks. "We just couldn't get it going."