A quick look at Wichita State (15-3, 3-2 American Athletic Conference), which faces USF tonight at 7 at the Yuengling Center in the “Coaches vs. Cancer” game:
Diminished Shock value?
The Shockers won 15 of their first 16 and climbed to as high as 16th in the Associated Press rankings before dropping consecutive games last week to Temple and Houston. They’re currently 31st in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings, meaning a Bulls victory tonight would qualify as a solid Quad 2 win. Among Wichita State’s non-conference triumphs were a 23-point rout of South Carolina in Cancun, and a five-point victory against Oklahoma.
The Yuengling Center will ‘rock’
Three nights after going 4-for-26 from 3-point range at UCF, the Bulls may struggle to find their touch again tonight. The Shockers allow only 64 points a game and are especially stingy on the perimeter, ranking fourth in the AAC in both field-goal percentage defense (38.8 percent) and 3-point percentage defense (30.1).
College hoops advanced-metrics extraordinaire Ken Pomeroy has the Shockers ranked 16th nationally in defensive efficiency.
“It will be a rock fight, and it’s not a pun in terms of the shots that are taken at the basket either,” said Bulls coach Brian Gregory, whose club leads the conference in scoring defense (62.3 ppg). ‘It’s two really physical defensive teams like you saw the other night (at UCF). So possessions and quality possessions are at a premium when it comes to your offense.”
A model of efficiency
Despite their recent skid, the Shockers remain a portrait of offensive balance (six players averaging at least eight points), selflessness (14.5 assists per game) and efficiency (plus-3.9 turnover margin).
Two-guard Erik Stevenson (12.9 ppg, team-best 32 steals), a 6-foot-3 sophomore, is a bona fide first-team All-AAC candidate. Six-foot-4 point guard Jamarius Burton (11.2 ppg, 3.6 assists) is Wichita’s top 3-point threat (16-for-37).