Shockers to play short-staffed East Carolina in AAC tournament first round

Wichita State is on a four-game winning streak, while East Carolina has lost its last four.

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Shockers to play short-staffed East Carolina in AAC tournament first round

Wichita State guard Erik Stevenson makes a move during the second half of the game against ECU on March 5, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Wichita State guard Erik Stevenson makes a move during the second half of the game against ECU on March 5, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State guard Erik Stevenson makes a move during the second half of the game against ECU on March 5, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Joseph Barringhaus

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State guard Erik Stevenson makes a move during the second half of the game against ECU on March 5, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Wichita State is on a mission.

After a dismal 1-6 start to American Athletic Conference play, the Shockers turned the corner against a much lighter schedule. The team won nine of its last 11 games and enters the American Athletic Conference tournament on a four-game winning streak.

For the Shockers to advance to the NCAA Tournament — what would be its eighth-straight trip — the team will have to win four games in Memphis. That quest starts with East Carolina at approximately 9 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the conference tournament.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State will play at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee for the American Athletic Conference tournament.

“I’m excited, anxious, ready to see what our guys can do now that it’s post-season play,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said Wednesday. 

East Carolina drew the 11-seed in the conference tournament. Having lost its last four games, East Carolina is drawing misfortune as injury continues to riddle the team. In its game last week against Wichita State, Seth LeDay, the team’s third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Rico Quinton, a 6-foot-9 center, was injured in a team practice last week and did not play in the season finale Sunday against UConn. His availability for Thursday’s game against Wichita State is unclear.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State center Asbjørn Midtgaard reaches up for a rebound during the first half of the game against ECU on March 5, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

East Carolina coach Joe Dooley said his team was practicing small-ball. Each Wichita State and East Carolina rank in the bottom four of the conference in shooting percentage and scoring.

“You can still win if you defend, rebound and take care of the little things,” Marshall said.

Wichita State swept the regular-season series between the two teams, by 16 and 17 points respectively.

The biggest key is taking their first options away,” Marshall said of scouting East Carolina.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State will play at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee for the American Athletic Conference.