WICHITA, Kan. — WKU battled in its season opener in a hostile environment at 16th-ranked Wichita State Monday night, trailing by two at halftime in front of a raucous midnight crowd in the 2013 ESPN Tip-Off Marathon, but the Shockers outdistanced WKU in the second half and handed WKU a 66-49 defeat.
The announced crowd of 10,506 gave Wichita State its 133rd-straight regular season crowd of over 10,000 fans. WKU faced a tough test in its season opener, as the Hilltoppers were matched up with a ranked foe in the season's first game for the first time in 11 years.
T.J. Price and Aleksej Rostov led WKU with 12 points apiece, and Aaron Adeoye had seven rebounds. Fred VanVleet led Wichita State with 17 points, and three others were in double figures.
A PDF box score is attached.
Price hit a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to bring the score to 30-28 in favor of Wichita State at the break. There were three runs of seven or more points in the middle of the first half, with the Shockers going on a 7-0 burst to lead 17-12. WKU responded right away with a 9-0 run of its own to re-take a 21-17 lead, before Wichita State scored eight-straight to lead 27-24.
VanVleet hit a jumper with 10 seconds to go in the half, giving Wichita State a 30-25 lead, but Price took the ball down the court and buried a three at the buzzer to make the score 30-28 after an official review to check if it counted.
But the Shockers came out strong to start the second half and scored 11-straight points, which helped put the Hilltoppers in a hole they couldn't recover from.
WKU shot 28.6 percent as a team in the game (18-for-63) and outrebounded the Shockers, 42-40. WKU had 17 turnovers, and Wichita State blocked 12 Hilltopper shots.
The Hilltoppers begin a three-game homestand at E.A. Diddle Arena on Saturday at 7:00 against East Tennessee State. It will be Military Appreciation Night on Saturday, and all military personnel and veterans can receive free admission with a military ID while friends and family can purchased reduced-price tickets for $7.00. Season tickets for the 2013-14 season start as low as $99 for all 18 games at E.A. Diddle Arena, and single-game tickets are on sale as well. Fans interested in purchasing season or single-game tickets can call the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally, or order online at WKUSports.com.