Wichita State cruises to win over No. 20 UNLV

WICHITA, Kan. -- The smile on the face of Wichita State's Joe Ragland as he answered questions from the media Sunday looked familiar.

It was the same one he flashed numerous times during Sunday's game against UNLV (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP), the one in which he made eight 3-pointers and had 31 points to lead the Shockers past the previously undefeated Runnin' Rebels 89-70.

"Once I made the first couple," Ragland said, smiling sheepishly, "I figured I would keep shooting whenever I was open."

That plan worked well for Wichita State (5-2), which led by 15 points at halftime and were never threatened after that.

Carl Hall scored 17 points and Garrett Stutz added 13 for Wichita State.

Chace Stanback led UNLV (8-1), which handed then-No. 1 North Carolina its first loss of the season on Nov. 26, with 16 points while Mike Moser added 12 points and seven rebounds.

UNLV coach Dave Rice said his team's inability to make defensive stops was the key.

"The credit all goes to Wichita State," Rice said. "They got anything and everything they wanted. They executed really, really well."

Ragland, who entered the game with five 3-pointers this season, was 8 of 9 from beyond the arc, one off the school record for 3s in a game.

It was 18-all when a 3 by Ragland -- the Shockers' fifth in the game's first 10 minutes -- started a 9-0 run.

UNLV went nearly 8 minutes without a field goal.

"Our game plan was to keep them from penetrating the middle," Shockers guard Toure Murry said, "and then just play from there."

That allowed the Shockers to stretch the lead behind Ragland. He made three more 3-pointers in the half's final 6 minutes, hitting all five first-half 3-pointers he attempted. His 19 first-half points were as many as UNLV's top three scorers combined.

"Our guys were beating them (off the dribble), and they had to help," Ragland said. "That kept leaving me wide open."

The Shockers were 8 of 14 on 3-pointers in the half in building a 47-32 lead.

UNLV started finding its offensive stride after halftime, scoring 14 points in the first 5½ minutes. But it could still never get the lead under 14.

A big reason was Wichita State's inside duo of Hall and Stutz, who combined for 19 points in the second half.

"We could not get a stop," Rice said. "From a learning standpoint, we need to understand that part of being 8-0 and being ranked is you're going to get everyone's best shot. And we certainly got that today."

Not surprisingly, it was Ragland who keyed the Shockers' final surge.

He calmly swished a kick-out 3-pointer, forcing a UNLV timeout with Wichita State leading 67-48. He finished 8 of 9 from the arc.

Then, 33 seconds later, Murry slammed a rebound for a 69-48 lead with 9:37 remaining, sending a sellout crowd into a frenzy.

UNLV would not get closer than 16 points after that.

"They played with more energy, came out harder," Moser said. "It was a real big game for them, and they took advantage of it."

UNLV was 5 of 20 from 3-point range and were outrebounded 28-26 after entering the game with a 6.2-rebound advantage per game. Wichita State had 20 assists on 32 field goals.

It was more than Shockers coach Gregg Marshall had even hoped.

"UNLV is an NCAA tournament team," Marshall said. "They've got the resume. I feel if we're consistent in that type of effort, we can be in the NCAA tournament as well."