Know your opponent: Wichita State to play Temple Owls in AAC quarterfinal

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Know your opponent: Wichita State to play Temple Owls in AAC quarterfinal

Temple players hangout before the Wichita State and East Carolina game on March 14, 2019. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Temple players hangout before the Wichita State and East Carolina game on March 14, 2019. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Joseph Barringhaus

Temple players hangout before the Wichita State and East Carolina game on March 14, 2019. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Joseph Barringhaus

Joseph Barringhaus

Temple players hangout before the Wichita State and East Carolina game on March 14, 2019. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

MEMPHIS, Ten. — Wichita State has a lot on its mind.

The Shockers want to win four games. It’s a quarter way there.

Players want to avenge a loss that’s haunted them since January.

It was the second game of the conference season when Wichita State let an 11-point lead slip away in the final 3:36 of the game in Wichita. The Shockers lost in overtime, and it set off a historically bad start to conference play.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State guard Samajae Haynes-Jones goes up for a basket during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

“We didn’t play a full 40-minutes,” Wichita State senior Samajae Haynes-Jones said. 

Friday’s quarterfinal with the No. 3 seed Temple Owls could write the story to Wichita State’s season. It’ll possibly end it or add a chapter.

Wichita State finds itself in an interesting situation. The Shockers have won 10 of its last 12 games and have won five in a row. That’s against the conference’s worst competition, including two games against conference bottom-feeders East Carolina and Tulane. Wichita State has the worst conference strength of schedule, having only played one of the conference’s top four finishers, Cincinnati, twice. 

Houston, the top finisher in the conference, is the only team with a better record in the last 11 games, but that’s to stiffer competition.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State freshman Dexter Dennis looks for a pass during the first half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

That mixed series of successes is in the past. Wichita State is worried about right now and how it’ll stop one of the AAC’s most prolific scorers, Shizz Alston, Jr., who has scored 21 or more in the last seven games.  Alston Jr., a first-team all-conference selection, has Quinton Rose, a second team all-conference player, to make for one of the least talked about powerhouses in the conference.

Freshman Dexter Dennis will likely draw the assignment to guard Alston, Jr. for the majority of the game. After the game against ECU on Thursday, Dennis said that he just needs to do what he “normally does” when it comes to stopping one of the conferences hottest scoring threats.

“With good scorers like that you just have to make it tough on them,” freshman Jamarius Burton said. “We are going to watch film, coach is going to come up with a game plan, and it’s just up to us to try and limit their touches.”

In the previous meeting, Alston, Rose, and Nate Pierre-Louis had  60 of the team’s 85 points. All together, the trio shot 42 percent from the field.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State forward Markis McDuffie drives the basket during the first half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

In that meeting, Markis McDuffie led the team with 24 points and Samajae Haynes-Jones added 22 points of his own. Wichita State’s seniors have since cooled as the season has come to a close. 

Wichita State will look to use its depth and size off the bench, sophomore Asbjørn Midtgaard said. The 7-foot forward said he thinks the Shockers have size Temple can’t match. Midtgaard didn’t play in the first meeting between the two teams, but freshman Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler had 12 points off the Shocker bench. The Shockers only had 15 points total from its bench.

Temple coach Fran Dunphy is retiring at the end of the season.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State fans cheer for a free shirt during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)