The Wichita State Shockers shot an abysmal 37 percent from the floor against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. This percentage is daunting to coach Gregg Marshall. He preaches speed on both sides of the court, but the offense’s speed will kill them if they miss shots like they did against Tulsa.
Stud Cleanthony Early at one point was 2-of-7 from the floor with only seven points. In fact, the only Shockers to hit more than 50 percent and score over 10 points were guards Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet. Baker was on fire from three-point land as he was 4-for-4 from behind the arc midway through the second half; he ended up 5-0f-7 from deep and finished with 21 points. VanVleet was 7-of-14 from the floor including a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe; he finished with 21 points as well. Luckily for the Shockers, the Golden Hurricane has not beaten a ranked opponent in the last 20 tries.
The Shockers went into a hostile environment in Tulsa, Okla. and came out with a victory, something their offense surely does not deserve. The offense provided 75 points, just enough for the stingy Shocker defense to grab the victory 77-54.
The defense stepped up in crunch time as the offense continued its first half woes deep into the second half. Marshall mixed up his speeds and pressures to get results he wanted. He went from a full-court zone pressure look to a half-court collapsing man defense. He would not let Tulsa’s coach and former All-American at Kansas, Danny Manning, to get comfortable calling an offensive game.
In the second half, Tulsa pressed to get buckets. The Golden Hurricane’s shooting percentage dropped immensely as they pressured themselves at getting to the rim regardless of having a defender in their way or not.
The low-scoring affair should be an eye-opener to not only coach Marshall’s squad, but for the Missouri Valley Conference as a whole. The Shockers struggled to find the bottom of the net from the three-point line (besides Baker) and Early missed early and often. Wichita State needs its senior, Early, to post 15 points a game for the rest of the season if they want to finish atop the MVC.
The offense needs to step up and one player in particular, Baker, the sophomore guard, proved he can bring his team to a victory. Granted, Baker did not do much in the second half, he allowed the lane to be open for guys like VanVleet and Evan Wussel to hit runners and lay-ups. The offense, mainly Nick Wiggins (0-for-6 from the floor), need to hit the shots that make the Shockers go; without those shots, Wichita State could be in a run of hurt in the tough MVC.
The Shockers finished the game on a 16-1 run to finish off Tulsa. If the offense steps up like they did in the last 10 minutes of tonight’s game, they are going to be a team no one wants to play. The offense sure did struggle in the first 30 minutes of the game, but when it mattered the most, the Shockers figured out a way to score and stepped up.