‘It’s big-boy basketball:’ Gregg Marshall, Shockers look forward to top-25 showdown with Memphis

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‘It’s big-boy basketball:’ Gregg Marshall, Shockers look forward to top-25 showdown with Memphis

Head Coach Gregg Marshall yells to his team during the game against Ole Miss on Saturday.

Head Coach Gregg Marshall yells to his team during the game against Ole Miss on Saturday.

Morgan Anderson

Head Coach Gregg Marshall yells to his team during the game against Ole Miss on Saturday.

Morgan Anderson

Morgan Anderson

Head Coach Gregg Marshall yells to his team during the game against Ole Miss on Saturday.

Wichita State Head Coach Gregg Marshall expects to see Charles Koch Arena rocking on Thursday when his No. 23 Shockers take on No. 21 Memphis. After the game against Ole Miss on Saturday, Marshall gave his assessment of the matchup.

He said he anticipates an atmosphere similar to the one the Shockers encountered against then-ranked No. 10 Cincinnati on March 4, 2o18 in the game that decided the regular season conference title during WSU’s first year in the American Athletic Conference.

“It’s going to be electric,” Marshall said Saturday. “You’re going to see future pros on both sides, and it’s going to be one heck of a basketball game.”

On Tuesday, Marshall spoke to the media again, this time focusing on how he thinks the Shockers can fare against the nationally relevant Tigers.

Memphis came into the 2019-2020 season with the No. 1 ranked recruiting class, headlined by the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit James Wiseman. Even after Wiseman’s departure from the program last month, the Tigers still boast four other top-100 recruits – including one five-star: Precious Achiuwa.

“They’ve got a lot of attention around them because of their recruiting class,” Marshall said. “I think they were picked to win the league this year. We get them twice: once in Memphis and once here. In the scheme of the league, this is a big game. It sets the tone for who’s looking up at whom. Hopefully it’ll be us on top.”

Marshall said he hopes his team will be able to limit the Tigers’ scoring opportunities by exposing the sets they will be running. Currently, Memphis has the No. 36 scoring offense in the country, shooting 46.9% from the field and averaging 79.3 points per game.

“Everyone’s going to [guard] a guy who’s capable of going and getting a bucket,” Marshall said. “We’ll have to execute against their sets and the things they do to get an advantage. [They have] a lot of tremendously talented young players. It’s a young group. I know that the big kid inside, Boogie Ellis, and D.J. Jeffries, are all tremendous players. They play hard and really fast.”

As for playing fast, the Tigers are averaging 9.3 steals per game, the 22nd best rate in the nation, and are forcing 17.7 opponent turnovers per game. Off of those turnovers, they are scoring 19.4 points per game. The Tiger defense will be a test for Marshall and his squad, who average just 12.2 turnovers a game.

When asked if he was excited for the matchup, Marshall was quick to answer:

“Absolutely.”

After crediting Memphis for their national aura, with their famous head coach, Penny Hardaway, and soon-to-be famous players, Marshall said matchups like this are what make WSU’s move to a new conference worth it.

“It’s a fun matchup. That’s why you join this league. That’s why the American Athletic Conference makes sense for us,” Marshall said. “It’s big-boy basketball in early January. It’s a meaningful game. I think it’s going to be really, really entertaining.”

Tip off against Memphis is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday inside Charles Koch Arena. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN2.

 

Notable Game Notes

Andy Katz Predicition – NCAA March Madness correspondent Andy Katz picked the Wichita State-Memphis game as one to watch in his weekly picks. The analyst favors the Shockers to win at home against the Tigers.

When asked about the Shockers on his weekly Power-36 rankings show on Facebook, Katz named WSU and Houston as his frontrunners to win the conference at this point in the season.

“I think right now that Wichita State and Houston are in the poll positions to win the American,” Katz said on Monday. “With Memphis in that next tier, and then Cincinnati.”

 

Winning Streak(s) – The Shockers come into the game with a seven game winning streak, which is tied for the program’s longest since joining the AAC in 2017. The team’s last loss came on Nov. 27 against West Virginia in the Cancun Challenge. The Mountaineers now rank as the No. 17 team in the country, according to the AP Poll.

The Shockers’ streak also ranks as the fifth longest nationally.

WSU has also won 13 consecutive games inside of Koch Arena, which ranks as the nation’s 11th longest home winning streak. The last loss at home came on Feb. 23, 2019 last season at the hands of Hardaway’s Tigers.

Two of WSU’s opponents from this season, Omaha (No. 10, 14-straight) and Virginia Commonwealth (No. 3, 21-straight), have longer home winning streaks.