Wichita State to make American Tournament debut Friday


Matt Crow

February 24, 2018: Wichita State center Shaquille Morris reacts after colliding with an SMU player Saturday at SMU.

No. 11 Wichita State makes their debut in the  Aaron’s American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship this weekend.

After dropping the No. 1 seed and a share of the regular-season title by one point, The Shockers go into the tournament as the No. 2 seed, sharing the regular-season second place spot with No. 21 Houston.

In their inaugural season, Wichita State was able to make a splash on The American’s leaderboards.

In their first year in the conference, The Shockers are on track to set American records for scoring offense (83.1), rebounding offense (40.7) and assists per game (18.8).

They head into the tournament also leading in rebound margin (+9.8), field goal percentage (.480), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6), defensive rebound percentage (.771) and three-pointers per game (9.2).

Head Coach Gregg Marshall said that the team has not yet hit their peak, but he wants to keep their motivation up regardless of the fact they’re not fighting for a bid to the Big Dance.

“Knowing that you’re in, it’s just a matter of trying to get your team to play at their peak this time of year, regardless of what tournament,” Marshall said.”It’s one and done from here on out.”

The Shockers will play the winner of No. 7 seed Temple/No. 10 seed Tulane in the quarterfinal game.

With a Temple being the 7 seed, Marshall thinks that just shows the depth and talent of the teams that The American has.

“Temple is a team that beat Clemson, beat Auburn…They can beat anybody in the country. They finished seventh in our league. It’s amazing,” Marshall said. “It speaks to the depth of the league. That’s a tough quarterfinal opponent, for sure, but they have to beat Tulane.”

Wichita State and Temple split the regular-season series, with each team winning on their home courts. In the matchup at Temple, The Shockers led a majority of the game until The Owls surged forward with the win.

In the second meeting between the two, Wichita State overcame 14-point halftime deficit to secure the win and the series split with Temple.

The Owls lost four of their last five regular-season games finishing 16-14 and 8-10 in The American. Per NCAA RPI calculations, Temple has played one of the nation’s 10 toughest schedules, ranking in at No. 52.

Tulane was one team that Wichita State only played once during the regular-season. In the first and only matchup, sophomore guard Landry Shamet was out due to illness allowing Marshall to showcase the depth of his bench.

Senior center Shaquille Morris matched his career-high with 25 points and senior guard Conner Frankamp scored a season-best of 18 points with four assists.

Tulane’s Melvin Frazier led The Green Wave with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Wichita State is heading into the conference tournament weekend with a 12.3 scoring margin averaging 83.1 points per game along with a 9.8 rebounding margin averaging 40.7 rebounds per game.

If The Shockers can secure the quarterfinal win, they will grab their ninth-straight 25-win season–one of the four-longest streaks in the nation.

Wichita State plays on Friday at 6 p.m. CT and will be broadcasted on ESPNU.