How They Are Doing So Far:
With a date against Providence in the Veterans Classic and a trip to the Charleston Classic, Wichita State has played a tough schedule. Even their other games against Louisiana Tech, Rice and Baylor are not easy contests. Through all of that, the Shockers are currently 4-3. With victories against Providence and Baylor, it is not a bad start. But for a team that has reached seven straight NCAA Tournaments, it is not what Coach Gregg Marshall was hoping for. Wichita State did lose a ton of talent from last year’s tournament team though so a slow start is not a surprise. If they want to reach the tournament again in 2019 though, they need to start beating teams like Oklahoma.
Last Time Out:
When the Shockers hosted Baylor on Saturday, they got off to a great start. Wichita State was up 44-15 against the Bears at halftime. Things slowed down from there, but it was way too much for Baylor to make up. The Shockers were led by senior Samajae Haynes-Jones with 21 points and ten rebounds. The senior has really stepped up his game this year and he was lethal from long range against the Bears, connecting on 6-of-11 from beyond the arc. Markis McDuffie added 15 points and freshman Erik Stevenson added 18 points off the bench.
Who To Watch:
McDuffie was really the only known commodity heading into this season. But he also had a disappointing 2017-2018 campaign in large part due to a foot injury. But he is off to a great start in 2018-2019, averaging a team high 19.6 points. The 6-8 senior is a very good outside shooter and has already knocked down 17 three-pointers this season. With his ability to score inside and outside, McDuffie is a tough matchup for defenders.
Who Else To Watch:
Haynes-Jones is the only other senior on the roster and he and McDuffie have done a superb job of quickly becoming leaders on the floor. That leadership also means those two will be asked, at least for now, to do much of the scoring. On the season Haynes-Jones is averaging 13.1 points and a team high 4.0 assists. Last year, after coming in from the junior college ranks, Haynes-Jones did not make much of an impact playing behind Landry Shamet. But now this is his backcourt and he is leading by example.
This will be a great game to start off a busy college basketball Saturday. Oklahoma is playing very well right now so they should be able to beat Wichita State at home. But the Shockers are getting better with every game and younger players like Erik Stevenson and Dexter Dennis are quickly developing into very key players. With them developing around McDuffie and Haynes-Jones, this is a dangerous team. However, this is also Wichita State’s first true road game of the season and the seniors will have to keep the Shockers under control when things are not going their way.