Remember in the movie Pearl Harbor when the Japanese general is like “I fear all we’ve done is awaken a sleeping giant.”? I really want that to be GIA today. The recipe is all there. One of the best teams in college basketball is coming to town. The game is in the national spotlight. This Oklahoma State squad has gone unnoticed this year, and now has the chance to prove themselves and pack GIA through conference play. That’s what I hope happens at least, but perhaps I’m romanticizing the whole thing. Anyway, lets get to the preview.
Who: No. 6 Wichita State Shockers
Where: Gallagher Iba Arena - Stillwater, Ok
When: December 9, 2017 - 3:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN 2
Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: Cowboy Radio Network
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
In case you somehow haven’t heard, Wichita State is really good. The Shockers have already picked up several quality wins against Cal, Marquette, and Baylor, with a one-point loss to No. 13 Notre Dame being their lone blemish. The Shockers are coached by one of the most experienced and respected coaches in college basketball, Gregg Marshall who sports a 265-91 overall record since taking over the program. Marshall is known for his gritty coaching style that produces efficient offenses and disruptive defenses. Wichita State has finished in the top ten in defensive rebound percentage in eight of the last ten seasons under Marshall.
The Shockers certainly do not lack size. Former Edmond Memorial star Shaq Morris leads the way for the Shocker front-court. The senior leads Wichita State in scoring at 14.6 points per game and is a constant pick-and-roll and post up weapon for the Shocker offense.
Forward Darral Willis Jr. has also been huge on both ends for the Shockers. Willis has lead the way on the boards this season with 6.5 rebounds per game. Defensively, Willis has made his presence known as well, blocking nearly two shots per game.
The Shocker backcourt is lead by point guard Landry Shamet. NBA scouts have absolutely fallen in love with Shamet as he has ideal NBA size and athleticism as well as being a prolific outside shooter and having an extremely high basketball IQ. Shamet is a fantastic ball handler that is known for being able to operate at different speeds.
KU transfer, Connor Frankamp has been a major contributor for the Shockers as well. Frankamp is a solid three point shooter that is also more than capable of running the offense when Shamet goes to the bench.
This is Round Two
The Cowboys and Shockers met a year ago and the Cowboys absolutely dominated. Jeffrey Carrol and Jawun Evans has 22 points each and the Cowboys were extremely efficient from the three point line, shooting 52 percent. It's worth noting, that Jawun Evans guy was pretty good and perhaps the fact that he demanded so much attention from the Shocker defense allowed the Pokes to heat up from three.
Three Big Things
1. GIA will be the (Larry Reece voice) ROWWWWWDDDDDIEST ARENA IN THE COUNTRY
GIA is the best arena in college basketball. Am I biased? Maybe. However, it is only the best arena in college basketball when its packed, 13,000 strong. I’m pretty sure Stillwater High School has had louder crowds than OSU so far this season. However, we are done with that playing directional schools nonsense and are welcoming one of the best teams in the nation. Unless something better is going on at 3 p.m. on a December Saturday in Stillwater, Wichita State will awaken a sleeping giant.
The Pokes have played incredibly well defensively so far this season, holding all six opponents under 42 percent shooting at home. The Cowboy defense hasn’t been tested like they will be on Saturday, it’ll be interesting to see how they look to slow down the Shamet/Morris duo. The Shockers play a little defense themselves. Marshall’s defense is insanely disciplined and is great at running you off the three point line and contesting shots without fouling.
3. Big Mitch
Mitchell Solomon might be the most important player in this game. The senior will be tasked with stopping Shaq Morris and absolutely CANNOT get in foul trouble in this one. We can’t have another repeat of the dunk fest that occurred against A&M if the Cowboys are going to have any chance.
If I were a gambling man, I would probably take Oklahoma State in this one.....+5 against the spread. I expect it to be an extremely competitive game that ultimately ends in Wichita State’s favor. Don’t think Marshall’s squad forgot about the pounding the Cowboys delivered against this team last year. With all of that being said, I think this team is going to give us a lot to be optimistic about win or lose.