This is the last big game for the Pokes in the non-conference schedule, and I’m ready for another challenge. I feel we should have won at Maryland (don’t get me started), and now I feel we should win at Wichita, if the Cowboys play the brand of basketball they have shown they can play.
This is the first half of a home-and-home series, with the Shockers coming to Gallagher-Iba Arena December 9th next year.
Here are the quick hits for tonight’s matchup with the Wichita State Shockers.
Shockers (9-2, 6-0 Home) vs. Cowboys (8-2, 1-1 Away)
Time: 6:00 p.m. CST
Location: Wichita, Kansas
TV: None - WatchESPN only.
Stream: WatchESPN (requires provider login)
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
Wichita State has made it to the Big Dance every year since the 2011-12 season. They are coming off a 26-9 record, 16-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference. In last year’s postseason run, they defeated Vanderbilt in the play-in game, Arizona in the first round, then lost to Miami in the second round.
The Shockers lost a lot this past offseason, including the heart and soul of their recent tournament run, Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. Head Coach Gregg Marshall, in his tenth season as head coach of the Shockers, hasn’t let the loss of two key players break their spirits. The Shockers have started their quest for a fifth straight tournament berth rather well, boasting a 9-2 record, with victories over Tulsa, LSU, and OU.
Player to Watch:
There isn’t one certain player to watch on this team, so I’m gonna say keep an eye on the backcourt for the Shockers. With VanVleet and Baker gone, it’s up to Landry Shamet, a sophomore, and Conner Frankamp, a junior, to take over for the Shockers. The duo are only averaging 14.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 5.3 apg. Not great numbers from the backcourt, but it’s been enough to get it done so far this year. I want to see how they react to a Brad Underwood type of suffocating defense.
Here’s how the two teams match up on paper.
Three Big Things
1. Shut down 3 point shooters.
Wichita State has five players who are shooting better than 40% from deep (having taken at least 10 3 pt attempts). It's this kind of deep shooting that makes me worried, as OSU is 312th out of 347 in 3 pt defense. While Baker and VanVleet are no longer wearing the black and yellow, the Cowboys aren’t out of the woods yet for deep ball shooters.
2. Play good defense.
Wichita State averages 81.7 ppg, however, they do not have a scorer over 11 ppg this season. This means they spread the ball well, and the Cowboys will have to bring their A+ defensive effort and play good help D to shut this offense down.
3. Show that we can win big games on the road.
We’ve won only one true road game this season, and that was when we barely scraped by Tulsa. We had an opportunity to win a game in College Park, Maryland, but that slipped through our fingers. A good way to win on the road is take the crowd out of it early. You shut down an opposing crowd early and never let up, that’s one less opponent you have to face off against.
I am fully on board the Coach Underwood train, but if he wants the national media to realize how good this team is, he is going to have to take the team on the road and get big wins. Wichita State is a great starting point and would also be a great confidence booster for the team with conference play less than two weeks away.