WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall used 12 players in the first half of Friday night’s game against Florida Gulf Coast, hoping his 11th-ranked Shockers could spread out the minutes and still win handily.
Not only did that not happen, Marshall realized star Landry Shamet was not going to see the bench much after halftime.
Shamet scored a game-high 23 points in 33 minutes to lift Wichita State past Florida Gulf Coast 75-65.
“I couldn’t take Landry off the floor,” Marshall said. “I needed his experience, needed his ability to make plays. We needed all of it.”
Darral Willis finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds for Wichita State (10-2).
Brandon Goodwin scored 20 points to lead Florida Gulf Coast (7-7), and Zach Johnson had 19. Goodwin and Johnson were a combined 15 of 38 from the field.
Shamet was 8 of 12 from the field while the rest of his team went 14 of 44. But one of his five assists was the talk of postgame comments.
Late in the game, Shamet split a trap, drew an extra defender in the lane and found Conner Frankamp open for a corner 3-point shot that gave the Shockers a 70-62 lead with 1:10 to play.
“I just wanted to get to the middle and make a play,” Shamet said. “It was fitting for Conner.”
Among the most notable developments was the season debut of Markis McDuffie, a 6-foot-8 junior who led the Shockers in scoring and rebounding last season. McDuffie missed the first 11 games recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot that required surgery.
McDuffie, who returned to practice this week, had three points and four rebounds in 9 minutes of playing time.
“There’s a lot of rust,” McDuffie said. “I’ve never in my entire life not played basketball for three months.”
Two teams that entered the game averaging a combined 169.5 points managed to produce a fairly grinding pace.
Each team shot its season low field goal percentage — Florida Gulf Coast at 36.8, Wichita State at 39.3.
“We were just a little tick off, in so many ways,” Marshall said. “In the end, we did just enough. … It’s still going to be a tough film to watch.”
That resulted in Florida Gulf Coast having a chance to steal a victory.
A layup by the Eagles’ Brady Ernst tied the score 61-61 with 4:48 remaining. Free throws and a tip-in by Willis helped the Shockers establish a lead, and Frankamp’s 3-pointer all but sealed it.
“That was a huge 3,” Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley said. “We helped off of him, and they made us pay.”
Wichita State was 22 of 26 at the free throw line while Gulf Coast was 6 of 10.
In its previous three home games, Wichita State had serious defensive problems in the first half, allowing 50, 54 and 50 points to South Dakota State, Oklahoma State and Arkansas State, respectively. That helped the Shockers face halftime deficits each time.
So Willis was happy to announce, “at least they didn’t score 50” after Gulf Coast managed just 33 first-half points on 36.4 percent shooting.
“Wichita State is going to be a terrific defensive team,” Dooley said. “I watched that Arkansas State film, and they just got on a heck of a roll with 3s, especially in transition.”
Dooley was an assistant at Kansas when Frankamp played for the Jayhawks.
The two exchanged a quick hug during pregame.
Florida Gulf Coast: The Eagles have lost five of their last six games, but they were competitive to the end on the road against a ranked team.
Wichita State: The Shockers avoided a terrible loss for the second straight game but end their non-conference schedule with plenty of questions.
Florida Gulf Coast: The Eagles travel to Rhode Island on Wednesday.
Wichita State: The Shockers play their first American Athletic Conference game Dec. 30 at Connecticut.