‘He’s a lot to handle’: Etienne’s second-half performance catapults Shockers to third consecutive road victory


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower

Wichita State sophomore Tyson Etienne looks to pass during the game against OSU at Charles Koch Arena on Dec.12.

The Shockers found themselves trailing 69-62 with 7:39 left in the game as Ole Miss took its largest lead of the night.

But WSU’s Tyson Etienne was able to lead the comeback, as the Shockers outscored the Rebels 21-10 down the stretch. During a three-minute stretch in the second half, Etienne scored 11 straight points helping to keep WSU in the ballgame.

Etienne continued his strong play throughout the second half, finishing with a career-high 29 points with 19 of those coming in the final 20 minutes of play. 

“We did it for each other,” Etienne said. “We looked at each other in the huddle every single time and we just knew that we were going to win this game for each other. We knew that just because we were down seven, basketball is a game of runs and we have to be able to weather that storm. So we did just that.”

Etienne sank a three-pointer from NBA range, giving the Shockers their first lead of the second half. 

Etienne said that even with the deep shot attempt, it is something he is confident in. 

“I don’t really shoot college three-pointers, it’s kind of always been like that,” Etienne said. “Growing up I’ve never shot the line. It’s just something that I just do. I feel comfortable shooting at that range, it doesn’t feel like a stretch.”

Through seven games this season, Etienne has increased his scoring average by 7.6 points per game. Last season, he was primarily a catch-and-shoot but this year, he has been able to make plays off the dribble as well.

Etienne said that it has been rewarding to see his offseason work pay dividends this season.

“You put in the hours in practicing, in workouts, the stuff I do off the floor to prepare yourself for moments like that. When you get in the game you just let it flow and I let my game play. The rest of our guys did that too. We’re all going to make plays like that and that’s a testament to the work we put in with our coaches on our own.”

Etienne’s backcourt partner, graduate transfer Alterique Gilbert, has been able to take advantage of Etienne’s talent in his first year as a Shocker. On Saturday, Gilbert tallied the 250th assist of his career. 

Gilbert said that having a weapon like Etienne has made his job easier as a point guard.

“It makes everybody’s job a lot easier, my job especially when you have a shooter like that, that can knock down shots consistently,” Gilbert said. “He’s a real threat on the offensive end, he’s a lot to handle. I think teams are starting to notice that.”

Throughout this offseason, the team has been faced with some adversity. The team has dealt with the resignation of their former coach Gregg Marshall and with COVID-19 setbacks that have led to multiple game cancellations. 

Etienne said the team has stayed prepared throughout the process regardless of the setbacks. 

“Even when we had Coach Marshall back in the summer, we were preparing every day for this moment,” he said. “Everybody was prepared when what happened, happened and we kept saying ‘trust the grind, control what we can control’. We just have to keep playing games and have fun playing the game of basketball.”

Brown and the Shockers were able to pick up the 83-79 victory on the road, leading to their fifth straight victory. With the win, Brown joined Gary Thompson as the only Shocker head coaches to start their tenure with three-straight true road victories.

Prior to the game against the Rebels, there was a social media post with Interim Head Coach Isaac Brown saying, “If you win this game, I promise you, you’re gonna send a message across the country.”

Brown said that message was despite the offseason turmoil, Shocker basketball is here to stay.

“We’ve got a rich basketball history,” Brown said. “I’ve been here for seven years, we’ve been to six NCAA Tournaments. These guys came here for one reason, our proud tradition and they’re trying to keep that thing going.”

On Wednesday, WSU will look to improve to extend its winning streak to six games as they face off against No. 5 Houston. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.