Battle at the three: WSU goes up against best 3-point defense in American


Brian Hayes

Wichita State center Shaquille Morris and Wichita State guard Landry Shamet smile during a Shocker free throw attempt against the Houston Cougars during the second half in Koch Arena.

No. 5 Wichita State may have met their match when it comes to threes: East Carolina University.

The Shockers rank 14th in the nation and first in The American for three-point percentage (.413). ECU leads the conference in three-point field goal percentage defense at (.305).

The Shockers have hit 12 threes in every game so far in conference play and average 9.8 per game. The Pirates haven’t allowed more than nine threes in a game so far this season.

On the offensive side, ECU is the exact opposite from behind the arc. The Pirates rank last in the entire nation for three-point percentage (.260).

The Pirates are 7-8 overall and 1-3 in The American. Their one conference win was a two-point victory over South Florida, who The Shockers beat by 38.

Tulsa, UCF, and most recently Connecticut handed ECU their three conference losses.

The Pirates’ scoring margin is -3.7, and their rebounding margin is +0.0 averaging 37.3 per game.

ECU’s senior guard B.J. Tyson is one of only three players in The American who averages more than 35 minutes a game. He is The Pirates’ leading scorer averaging 15.7 points per game.

Junior guard Isaac Fleming, a transfer from Hawaii leads in steals with 19, and averages 12.7 points per game.

Wichita State’s scoring margin is 16.3, and they have the fourth-best rebounding margin in the country (10.5) and they average 42.1 rebounds per game.

East Carolina has some familiar faces for Wichita State.

ECU’s Jabari Craig and WSU’s Darral Willis are no strangers. They both played at Pearl River Community College during the 2015-16 season where they helped lead the team to a division title.

The Pirates’ Isaac Fleming was a player for Hawaii in the 2014 Diamond Head Classic who led the Rainbow Warriors to almost upsetting the then No. 11 Shockers. In that game, Fleming came off the bench with 17 points and went 3-4 from the three.

A Shocker win would give Wichita State a half-game lead in The American standings. Cincinnati is also 3-0 in the conference but do not play until Saturday.

Thursday will be the only regular-season meeting between The Shockers and The Pirates. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. and the game preview will air on ESPN2.