HARTFORD - This was the type of debut Wichita State envisioned when it joined the American Athletic Conference.
Landry Shamet scored 16 points and the eighth-ranked Shockers opened conference play by beating UConn 72-62 in front of a packed arena, which has four national championship banners hanging from the rafters.
Rashard Kelly, Conner Frankamp and Austin Reaves each added 11 points for Wichita State (11-2, 1-0).
“It was a cool atmosphere to finally get into conference play and get that first win out of the way,” Shamet said. “Our first American win, on the road, a 10-point win at UConn. (It) looks good.”
Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier each had 18 points for the Huskies (7-6, 0-1), who have lost three in a row and four of their last five. Christian Vital chipped in with 17 points for UConn.
The Shockers led by four points at the half and the game was tied at 49 with just over 9 minutes left. But Wichita State took control with a 15-6 run and held on from there.
UConn eschewed its traditional man-to-man defense in favor of a zone that gave Wichita State some open 3-point looks.
The Shockers went 12 of 25 from behind the arc, while the Huskies were just 3 of 16 from 3-point range.
Wichita State held UConn to just 39 percent shooting from the field including 31 percent in the first half, when the Huskies had just one field goal over the last 7:45.
Reaves credited the scouting report.
“Whatever they did, we knew what was coming,” he said. “And we knew their tendencies, which way they liked to go and how they liked to shoot it.”
But a jumper by Larrier pulled the Huskies within 30-27 with 54 seconds left in the first half and they went into the break trailing just 33-29.
Coach Kevin Ollie said his young Huskies, with eight new players, are giving great effort, but have shown their inexperience down the stretch in big games. They trailed Michigan State by just a point earlier in this season before losing by 20.
“It's definitely frustrating,” Vital said. “But the one thing I loved about my teammates it that they didn't stop. They won by 10, but it didn't feel like a 10-point loss to be honest with you. It was just another tough game that we came up short on.”
THE BIG PICTURE.
Wichita State: The Shockers have gone 17 straight games without being outrebounded. They outrebounded UConn 47-34, including 17-8 on the offensive end.
“Rashard Kelly was just a monster,” coach Gregg Marshall said. “He got 12, but I thought he had 15. He got his hands on so many.”
UConn: The Huskies fall to 0-3 against ranked opponents this season. UConn lost to Michigan State 77-57 last month in the PK80 tournament, and fell last week at Arizona, 73-58. The Huskies have won just twice against ranked teams over the past four seasons.
The Shockers didn't get into Connecticut until late Friday night. A mechanical problem with their charter led to hours of delays, with the team heading back to campus for an unscheduled practice before finally getting onto a new airplane and departing. Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Shockers are 44-6 on the road, with the best road winning percentage (88 percent) in Division I.
UConn announced this week that starting point guard Alterique Gilbert has lost another season to a left shoulder injury. Gilbert played just three games last year before dislocating the shoulder and re-injured it last month in the loss to Michigan State.
Wichita State's Markis McDuffie, who played in his second game since returning from a stress fracture in his left foot, played 16 minutes with four points and four rebounds.
UConn: The Huskies travel to Oklahoma to play Tulsa on Wednesday.
Wichita State: The Shockers will play their American Athletic Conference home opener on Thursday against Houston.