Shockers showcase offensive improvements in dominant win over Tulane


Marshall Sunner

The Wichita State bench celebrates after walk-on sophomore Tate Busse makes a free-throw late in the second half of the game against Tulane on Feb. 16 inside Charles Koch Arena.

Wichita State defeated Tulane 82-57 Sunday to improve to 19-6 on the season and 7-5 in conference play.

After dropping five of their last seven games, WSU has once again regained its confidence with a two-game winning streak over Central Florida and Tulane. WSU turned the corner after Head Coach Gregg Marshall tweaked his starting lineup.

Prior to the UCF game, Marshall inserted freshman Noah Fernandes into the lineup, even though he had played only limited minutes so far this year. In his two starts, Fernandes has impressed the coaching staff with his energy — especially on the defensive end.

“He’s in there for his energy and positive outlook on things,” Marshall said after Sunday’s game. “He’s handled his business all year long. He got dealt a terrible hand, out nine weeks when we were starting to play games. He’s a winner and I’m glad he’s on our team, and hopefully, he’ll continue to get better as he gets more minutes.”

Improved ball movement and unselfishness have been hallmarks of WSU’s recent success. The Shockers have racked up a total of 41 assists over the past two games. On Sunday, only seven of WSU’s field goals were unassisted.

“Especially in the first half, we were doing a really good job of getting in there and finding each other — staying in the window, moving, and sliding,” Marshall said.

In Sunday’s dominant performance, Tyson Etienne and Dexter Dennis combined to score exactly half — 41 of WSU’s 82 points while going 10-13 from beyond the arc.

Etienne broke out of something of a slump against the Green Wave, tallying his second 20-point outing of his freshman season. Landry Shamet is the only other WSU freshman to accomplish this feat.

“Coach told me yesterday to be me and play my game, and that’s what I did,” Etienne said. “My teammates found me. They kept saying to get open and find those spots and they’ll find me. Jamarius Burton did a great job with that. It was the same when we were looking for Dexter (Dennis) in the first half.”

For a second straight game, WSU held its opponent to 20 points in the first half. Against Tulane, the Shockers took a 30-point lead into the locker room — the sixth-largest half-time margin in school history.

These defensive performances have been a catalyst in getting WSU back on track.

“You’re going to win a lot of games when you hold a team to 20 points,” Marshall said. “I don’t know if we can do that the rest of the year, but we’ll certainly try.”

From the other side of the benches, Tulane Head Coach Ron Hunter said WSU’s sense of urgency could help them make a postseason run.

“That’s a team trying to get into the NCAA Tournament,” Hunter said. “They played desperate. If they play like this for the rest of the year, there’s no question they could make it to the second weekend.”Next up, the Shockers will be back inside Charles Koch Arena Thursday as they face off against South Florida. WSU will be wearing pink uniforms in partnership with the American Cancer Society Coaches vs. Cancer. Tip is scheduled for 6 p.m.