On Thursday afternoon, things played out to near perfection for the Wichita State Shockers.
At halftime of their game vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh, the Shockers held a four point edge in a contest that really could’ve gone in either direction entering its final 20 minutes. Wichita State however, was the team that made the move. A 14-point second half advantage keyed a 73-55 victory, as Wichita State could not be stopped on the offensive end.
The Shockers scored 48 points in the second half, advancing through the second round with their victory over Pittsburgh. The biggest takeaway from the game however, was Wichita State’s ability to simply limit the Panthers’ comeback chances. There was no sense of urgency throughout the entire second half for the Panthers.
Following their early afternoon victory, Wichita State got to sit back and enjoy the next game in Salt Lake City. The Shockers awaited the winner of No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 16 Southern. Regardless of how things actually played out, Wichita State must now prepare for the top seeded Bulldogs, but the bottom line is this — don’t think for a second that the Shockers can’t move forward into the Sweet 16.
Wichita State must simply be licking their chops after seeing the Bulldogs’ struggles. Now, head coach Mark Few will probably have his team re-energized and re-focused, clearing the NCAA Tournament jitters out of the way. However, there’s no doubt that the Shockers saw a side of Gonzaga that they can take advantage of.
There were a number of things that the Bulldogs struggled with that give Wichita State a sense of their vulnerability.
No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 9 Wichita State will hit the hardwood on Saturday.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS