‘We just had to get back to who we were’

No. 17 Wichita State defeated Central Florida 81-62.


Matt Crow

Wichita State forward Darral Willis Jr. celebrates after making a shot after a foul on UCF Wednesday night in Koch Arena.

No. 17 Wichita State was in a slump going into Thursday night’s match up against Central Florida.

Head Coach Gregg Marshall stated the team’s toughness, or lack there of, in the past two games should have “never gotten to that point.”

The Shockers bounced back from their two-loss streak with a 19-point win over The Knights.

“We just had to get back to who we were,” sophomore guard Austin Reaves said. “I feel like we went out tonight and competed really hard.”

Senior center Shaquille Morris said it was all about going back to what Wichita State is famously known for: playing angry.

“Everybody on the court took care of what they needed to do,” Morris said. “We’re trying to get back to playing angry and doing what we’re known for.”

The Shockers were able to secure an early, deep lead after holding The Knights without a field goal for nearly six minutes of play in the first half.

The comfortable lead diminished after Wichita State made only one of their last 10 shots, allowing Central Florida to come within eight at the half.

Going into the second half, The Shockers locked down even more defensively and ignited their offense, causing The Knights to not get within single digits again.

The Knights rank third nationally in scoring defense and fifth in field goal percentage defense (.378). UCF has had only two opponents score 70+ points in a game. The Shockers finished with 81 and shot 43.5 percent.

UCF’s seven-foot-six center, Tacko Fall is out the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury. In his absence, WSU’s bigs were able to penetrate The Knights’ defense.

The Shockers finished with 32 points in the paint.

Morris finished with 19 points and only missed three shots the entire game. He also added  two assists and six rebounds. Senior forward Darral Willis had the second-most points with 12.

“Coach preaches getting the ball inside and playing inside out,” Reaves said. “When Morris gets it going like that, he’s a problem.”

Morris became just the seventh Shocker in school history to reach 100 career wins. He joins senior forward Rashard Kelly who reached that milestone earlier this season.

Marshall believes the win was “a good turning point” for the team, especially for turning around and playing another game on Sunday.

“I thought the game was a good turning point for us, lets hope,” Marshall said. “We have Tulsa coming in here on Sunday and hopefully we can continue to win and build a little momentum.”

Tipoff against Tulsa is at  p.m. on Sunday and will be broadcasted on CBS Sports.