Udeze’s career night helps Shockers surge past Runnin’ Bulldog


Selena Favela

Wichita State sophomore Morris Udeze goes up for a contested shot during the game against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 19 inside Charles Koch Arena.

After sustaining a season-ending shoulder surgery last season, Morris Udeze wasn’t sure if he’d be playing at all this season.

The thought of redshirting crossed the Houston native’s mind. He thought about taking the season off, continuing his rehab, and coming back next season at full strength. But his rehab went better than expected.

Udeze has been a major force for the Shockers in their blistering 4-0 start to the season. On Tuesday against Gardner-Webb, Udeze led the team with 13 first-half points in his second consecutive start. He finished the game with 15 points on 6-8 shooting, four rebounds, and a single assist.

“I’m really, really excited for him (Udeze),” Head Coach Gregg Marshall said after the game. “At one point, he was talking about redshirting when he was rehabbing that shoulder. Those shoulders are a problem. As a young person, I can’t imagine how hard he worked to get it back to this point, so I’m so happy he’s getting to enjoy some success.”

The sophomore himself credited his breakout start to the work he put in over the summer.

“All summer, I’ve been working hard to get back to where I was last year and then get even better,” Udeze said. “I’ve been working with the coaches to try to get my hooks right and to keep on grinding every day.”

Udeze was a problem in the paint for the Runnin’ Bulldogs early in the game. His full range of moves were on display, from backing his opponents down to close-range fadeaway on the baseline. Almost everything Udeze put up went in, regardless of if he was fouled or not.

So far this season, he’s already received two starts in four games and posted a career-high in points in back-to-back games. Udeze is averaging 10 points, four rebounds, and 0.5 assists per game.

Marshall had two major emphases for Tuesday’s game — get out of the gates early and use a size advantage in the paint to cause problems on both offense and defense.

“It’s like a muddy track and you’re in a horse race,” Marshall said. “If you’re not the lead horse, you know what you get? You get a lot of horses’ asses and mud in your eye, so I like to run ahead as much as I can.”

The Shockers were able to pounce on Gardner-Webb early on, running out to an early 33-12 lead with more than seven minutes left in the first half. WSU led by 16 at the half, and ended up winning the game by a score of 74-52.

Marshall credited the win to his team’s length and size.

I think our length and size bothered them. That’s just the way it is when you play in the Big South,” Marshall said. “They have a lot of good players, but I don’t know if it was fatigue after playing North Carolina a couple of days ago, as big as they are, and then have to deal with Mo Udeze, Isaiah (Poor Bear-Chandler), and Asbjørn Midtgaard — I think our size bothered them.”

WSU’s head honcho then went on a tangent about physicality in the paint.

“There’s so much contact that’s allowed in college basketball around the basket. You can’t blow on anybody when they’re taking a jump shot these days, but around the basket, you have to lose a limb to get a foul call,” Marshall said. “That’s hard when you’re a little bit smaller or not as strong as the other guys. But I think our guys did a pretty good job walling up.”

The Shockers will look to continue their hot streak on Saturday against Oral Roberts in the fifth and final game of their season-opening homestand. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. inside Charles Koch Arena.