They’re bbbbbaaaaaccccckkkkk! After being humbled by Oklahoma State last weekend, the Shockers bounced back in a big way, defeating the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State 89-67. Wichita State played with intensity and purpose from tipoff, leading for the vast majority of the game. Both teams relied heavily on the three-pointer, as the Shockers and Jackrabbits combined to make 25 of 58 threes.
Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie stepped up big in this one, leading the Shockers with 21 and 17 respectively. Shamet scored 18 of his points from deep to have one of his best games in a Wichita State uniform. South Dakota State was led by sophomore forward Mike Daum, who had 20 points and 4 rebounds. The Shockers finish the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 10-3 record. The Jackrabbits fall to 7-8 on the season.
Christmas came early for Wichita State, as the Shockers were magnificent in many ways. After a huge letdown in their previous game, the Shockers played with fire in their bellies. They played with high energy, diving for loose balls, grabbing 9 steals, and out-rebounding their opponent 35-26.
The Shockers had one of their best games offensively, making 15 three-pointers and shooting 54% from the field. They figured out South Dakota State’s zone defense early on and attacked it with great passes, drives to the lane, and a barrage of threes. The Shockers played unselfishly, dishing out a ridiculous 24 assists. They also made 15 threes, which is the second time they’re accomplished that this year.
The Shockers played much better than they did against the Cowboys, but there are still some issues that need to be fixed. The main one is their perimeter defense. It was definitely improved from last game, but the Shockers still gave up 10 threes from the Jackrabbits. Not only that, but WSU allowed SDSU to shoot 48% from the field. In a fast paced, offensive-minded game like this one, it worked out fine, but improving their three-point defense has to be a priority moving forward.
Player of the Game
Landry Shamet deserves much recognition for his elite performance, but Markis McDuffie deserves the player of the game award. He was sensational on both ends of the court and played with energy and poise. I knew this was going to be a special night for him early on when he stole the ball on the first possession of the game and then fell on the ground for a loose ball a couple minutes later. This team needs McDuffie and Shamet to be its stars, and for this one, they definitely shined brightly. McDuffie had an all-around superb game, ending up with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals, and 2 assists.
Tweet of the Game
This crowd is ELECTRIC tonight! Four minutes in and they haven't stopped clapping and cheering–for only four points. #watchus
— Arielle Orsuto (@KWCHArielle) December 23, 2016
Shocker Nation was in full force for this game. The Shockers were playing after a bad loss and with just 3 days before Christmas, but that didn’t stop Wichita State fans from packing Koch Arena and cheering loudly. Wichita is a tremendous college basketball city. You hear me, AAC and Big East (hint, hint)?
The non-conference part of the schedule is over, and now it’s time for some Valley basketball. Many college basketball experts have said the Missouri Valley Conference is improved from last season, but let’s look at the numbers to see if that’s true or not.
At the end of last season, the 9 MVC schools not named Wichita State had an average KenPom ranking of 173. Currently, those schools have an average of 155, so there is a noticeable improvement from last year. Unfortunately, there’s only one school ranked in the top 100 – Illinois State at 66, but there are three others that are knocking on the door. Northern Iowa (101), Loyola (116), and Evansville (118) all have great potential to crack the top 100 in the near future. The Shockers open up Valley play on December 28 at Indiana State.