Wichita, KS (Sports Network) - Gregg Marshall's 16th-ranked Wichita State Shockers will try to stay perfect as they host the Marcus Thornton led William & Mary Tribe at Charles Koch Arena as part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.
Following an eight-point setback at Hampton in its season opener, William & Mary improved to 1-1 on Tuesday with an 84-72 home win over Liberty. Thornton, who is considered one of the top mid-major players in the nation, is off to a hot start as he has scored 20 points or more in each of his last four outings dating back to last season. Thornton scored 23 points to lead the way as the Tribe knocked down 60.4 percent of their field goal attempts to surge past the Flames.
The Shockers enter with a 2-0 record after coasting to double-digit victories over Emporia State (92-50) and Western Kentucky (66-49). Wichita State's two early season victories improved it to 38-4 in non-conference games at Charles Koch Arena over the last six years. Marshall's team has high hopes after a 30- win campaign last season ended with a hard-fought loss in the Final Four to the eventual national champion Louisville Cardinals. The Shockers have shown they are capable of frustrating their opposition their last time out by limiting WKU to just 28.6 percent shooting from the floor. The Hilltoppers also finished with only eight assists against 17 turnovers.
William & Mary has been impressive offensively through its first two games as it ranks 10th nationally in two-point field goal percentage (64.1) and leads all Colonial Athletic Association schools in assists (16.0), assist-to- turnover ratio (1.3), turnover margin (plus 1.5) and has also tallied 16 total steals. Thornton is posting a team-high of 22 points and four assists per game. The junior guard has been consistent with 34 straight outings with 10 points or more. The Tribe have a promising newcomer in Omar Prewitt, who has already made history as his 33 points in his first two games are the most by a W&M freshman in the last 20 years. Coach Tony Shaver will need strong showings out of senior forward Tim Rusthoven and sophomore swingman Terry Tarpey to stand a chance against the Shockers.
Although Rusthoven was nearly perfect versus Liberty with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field, he will have trouble duplicating that performance in Kansas as he matches up with the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Player of the Year, Cleanthony Early, who led the Shockers last season in the scoring column with 13.9 ppg to go along with 5.4 rpg. Early scored 11 points and finished just one rebound shy of a double-double against the Hilltoppers, while sophomore guard Fred VanVleet spearheaded the charge with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and four steals. Louisiana transfer Kadeem Coleby added 13 points and blocked four shots after seeing limited playing time in his program debut due to three fouls and the lopsided margin on the scoreboard.