Shockers to see potential starting lineup change after dropping two-straight


Matt Crow

Wichita State guard Samajae Haynes-Jones drives through traffic against Savannah State in Koch Arena.

No. 17 Wichita State dropped 10 spots in the AP Poll after their first back-to-back conference losses since the 2012-2013 season.

Head Coach Gregg Marshall thinks the games come down to toughness on the court.

“We need to be more aggressive. Be on the floor for loose balls, fight harder on the glass, fight harder when you are cutting and not letting people bump you off your cuts,” Marshall said.

Marshall said “now would be a good time” for a leader to emerge, which calls for potential changes to the starting lineup.

“Once you have some adversity, you lose a couple games, the opportunity, the timing is more suitable for changes in the lineup,” Marshall said. “We’ll determine that by who plays well and who practices well in the next couple days.”

The Shockers will meet Central Florida for the first time on Thursday. The Knights were picked to finish third in the conference.

Wichita State Assistant Coach Donnie was the UCF head coach from 2010-16 and led the Knights to three 20-wins seasons.

The Knights rank third nationally in scoring defense (59.1) and fifth in field goal percentage defense (.378).

Although UCF has one of the best defense in The American Athletic Conference, their reigning American Defensive Player of the Year is out for the remainder of the season.

UCF’s 7-foot-6 center, Tacko Fall, is out for the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury.

Fall was shooting .767 from the field averaging 11.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.

Despite The Knights losing Fall, a preseason first team all-conference selection, B.J. Taylor, returned in the middle of January after being out with a foot injury for 16 games.

“Taylor is a very good player. I think, first team all-conference last year. The guy makes plays; makes shots,” Marshall said. “We’re seeing more and more teams that have guys that do that on a consistent basis at a very high level, and he is one of those guys.”

The Knights are 13-6 overall, and 4-3 in The American. They are most recently coming off of a two-point win at South Florida.

UCF averages 63.6 points per game with a +4.5 scoring margin. They average 37.5 rebounds per game with a +4.8 rebounding margin.

The Shockers average 83.2 point per game with a 13.9 scoring margin, and average 41.5 rebounds per game with a 10.6 rebounding margin.

Regardless of dropping two-straight conference games, Wichita State still leads seven categories in The American: scoring offense (83.2), field goal percentage (.485), rebound margin (+10.6), assists (18.8), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5), defensive rebound percentage (.778) and three-pointers per game (9.5).

Tipoff is at 8 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN2.