Wichita State advances to meet BYU in KC

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Wichita State doesn't exactly have hordes of fans at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.
The upper half of the Sprint Center was completely blacked out -- by black curtains -- that made it a more intimate atmosphere for the Shockers' game against DePaul on Monday.
The effects on the court were basically the same. Wichita State ran and leaped its way to a 90-72 win that set up a Tuesday night showdown with BYU.
"A good win for us, with another big challenge tomorrow," WSU coach Gregg Marshall said.
The Shockers moved up two spots Monday, from No. 14 to 12, in the Associated Press rankings. Then they did their part to keep looking worthy of promotions while improving to 6-0.
Guard Ron Baker scored 21 points and guard Tekele Cotton had 17, helping WSU quickly build the margin to double digits in the first half.
DePaul (3-2) had few answers after a quick two-point lead that was countered on a flurry of defense and layups.
"I wouldn't say they went on a run," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. "We went dry. We turned it over a few untimely times; we didn't score. They just kept gliding along."
Guard Brandon Young led DePaul with 16 points but needed a 7-of-16 shooting night -- just the kind of shooting inefficiency WSU craves to create.
It sets up a fairly marquee matchup for the Shockers, who will get to face BYU (5-1) at this venue Tuesday.
WSU saw a little of BYU's 86-82 win over Texas on Monday and came away impressed by BYU guard Tyler Haws, who had 23 of his team-high 25 points in the second half.
It should still be a nice home-court crowd edge. But BYU looked awfully comfortable, hitting 10-of-12 3-pointers and overcoming a size disadvantage and massive second-half foul trouble in the win against Texas.
BYU lost last Wednesday at home to nationally ranked Iowa State. Had the Cougars not lost -- losing their freshman center in the final three minutes to an eye injury -- then the game Tuesday would be a battle of two Top 25 teams.
Not that BYU comes in cocky, either, after watching much of the Sprint Center nightcap.
Cotton had 13 points in the first half to go with five rebounds as Wichita State cruised after a very early two-point deficit.
Baker produced 11 first-half points to help extend a 27-21 lead to as many as 17 points with 5:38 left in the first half.
Wichita State led 52-34 at halftime behind a flurry of inside baskets. The Shockers were in front of a homestyle crowd at Sprint Center.
The Shockers produced several dunks off fast breaks as forward Cleanthony Early got going. He had 11 points with Baker.
The key trio for WSU was a combined 13-of-20 from the field.
No DePaul player had more than Tommy Hamilton's nine on 3-of-6 shooting.
And Purnell gave a seal of approval for Wichita State fans who are wondering if this year's team can get back to the Final Four.
"I think they're every bit as good," he said. "I really like their team."
NOTES: Wichita State tied the overall series with DePaul at 4-4. ... Wichita State was about four hours from home, playing in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic for the first time since 2009. ... This was the first time this year DePaul has faced a ranked opponent.

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