Wright State basketball: Raiders follow game plan, dominate inside in win

James Manns scored 26 points in Wright State’s win over Southern on Thursday night at the Nutter Center. Joseph Craven/WSU Athletics
James Manns scored 26 points in Wright State’s win over Southern on Thursday night at the Nutter Center. Joseph Craven/WSU Athletics

When coach Scott Nagy pulled his players together at their pre-game practice Wednesday, he had a message for how he wanted them to play against undersized and undermanned Southern.

“I told the team, ‘Our two ‘bigs,’ Grant and James, need to score 45 points for us, which means we need to throw the ball in … throw the ball in … throw the ball in,’” Nagy said, referring to Grant Basile and James Manns.

“I forgot all about that until Sharif (assistant Sharif Chambliss) reminded me after the game. It’s a credit to the players, knowing where we wanted to go with the ball, knowing we had an advantage. We did a really nice job of throwing it to the post all night.”

Manns, a 6-foot-7 third-year sophomore, had 26 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes, while Basile, a 6-9 redshirt freshman, had 23 points and seven boards in 22 minutes in an 85-62 win before 3,012 fans Thursday.

Manns has become the Vinnie “Microwave” Johnson of the Raiders with his instant offense. He had 13 points in 12 minutes in the team’s previous game against Indiana State.

“He can score and he can score fast. Some guys just have a knack for that, and he does,” Nagy said.

Manns, who has became the back-up center to Basile with star Loudon Love out with an elbow injury, made 10 of 16 shots and 6 of 6 free throws.

“Once he hits one, you know the next one’s going up and it’s probably going in,” said Basile, who had a torrid night himself, going 8 of 10 from the field and 7 of 7 from the foul line.

“They both have great touches (around the rim) and are really good shooters, too,” Nagy said. “Mostly, I’m happy for James. He’s waited a long time to play, and, through injuries, has gotten a chance and has obviously made the most of it.”

Five things we learned:

No Wampler: The Raiders (8-3) were already down one starter without Love, and Bill Wampler, their leading scorer with a 15.0 average, didn't play because of a concussion after taking a fall in practice.

Asked if the senior would be back for Tuesday’s game against Mississippi Valley State, Nagy said: “We think. He’s in concussion protocol. We’re hoping it wasn’t too serious.”

Free-throw record: Shooting only 67.4 percent on foul shots this season (239th in the nation), the Raiders went 25 of 28 and made a school record 21 in a row.

The previous mark of 17 was reached three times, the last against St. Michael’s on Jan. 3, 1986.

The Raiders have made more free throws than their opponents have shot. They’re 153 of 208, while the opposition is 98 of 142.

“If you can keep that up, you’ve got a great chance of winning,” Nagy said.

Competitive half: The Raiders raced to an early nine-point lead before the Jaguars cut it to 30-26. A 14-7 run made it 44-33 at halftime.

Wright State built a 15-point lead five minutes into the second half.

Hustle play: Coming off a loss to Indiana State, the Raiders displayed a higher level of intensity from the start. After a Southern player dribbled off his foot, Jaylon Hall made an all-out dive for the loose ball, followed by Jordan Ash.

The Jaguars were awarded possession in a tie-up, but they had only a few seconds to get a shot off and missed wildly.

Coming up: Mississippi Valley State plays at Miami at 1 p.m. Sunday before coming to the Nutter Center for a 7 p.m. tipoff Tuesday. Wright State will be selling hot dogs for $1 at the game.

The Raiders conclude their non-conference season at Toledo at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21. They start Horizon League play at home against Green Bay on Dec. 28 and Milwaukee on Dec. 30.