Wichita State snaps six-game losing streak against Cincinnati


Lena Alhallaq/ The Sunflower

Wichita State redshirt senior Alterique Gilbert looks to pass during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Charles Koch Arena on Jan. 10.

The Wichita State men’s basketball team notched an 82-76 victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats at Charles Koch Arena on Sunday afternoon.

With the victory, the Shockers improved  to 7-3 on the season  and 3-1 in American Athletic Conference play. With the loss, Cincinnati moves to 3-7 overall and 1-4 in  conference play. 

The Shockers offense got off to a sluggish start  in the first half, shooting 11-of-32 from the floor and going  0-of-5 from three-point distance in the first 20 minutes. Despite the shooting woes, the Shockers led 30-29 at halftime. 

The second half looked much different for WSU, shooting 17-29 from the floor for the half, propelling the Shockers to victory. The Shockers  had 41 bench points in the victory.

Freshman guard Ricky Council IV was effective  in the victory, scoring a career-high 23 points and also grabbing six rebounds. Senior forward Morris Udeze matched his career-high in points with an 18-point performance. Wichita State’s leading scorer sophomore Tyson Etienne scored 16 points and had five rebounds for the contest.

Since joining the American Athletic Conference in 2017, Cincinnati and Wichita State have met on the hardwood seven times. In those seven meetings, the Shockers have a 1-6 record against Cincinnati and had dropped the last six matchups.

The last time the Shockers defeated the Bearcats was on Feb. 18, 2018 in a road victory for Wichita State. At the time of the game, Cincinnati was ranked fifth in the Associated Press Top-25 poll.

Last season the Shockers and Bearcats competed in two close  games decided by one possession. On Feb. 6, the Shockers fell to the Bearcats by one point in an 80-79 loss at Charles Koch Arena as Jarron Cumberland sank a free throw with 2.5 seconds left. 

In the road matchup at Cincinnati on Feb. 23, the Shockers faltered down the stretch, losing to the Bearcats 67-64.

Defeating Cincinnati on Sunday was a statement win for Interim Head Coach Isaac Brown early in his tenure. The victory against the Bearcats on Sunday was also the first in Wichita since joining the AAC.

“It felt really good,” Brown said. “I told those guys, this is your opportunity to put your name in the record books, to be the first team to beat Cincinnati in Wichita and they finally did.”

Heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Bearcats, there was heavy emphasis on how important it is to get a win over Cincinnati for the first time in nearly three years.  

“Huge win for us, being that we have never beat them at home since we’ve been in the American conference,” Etienne said. “Especially it being the first home game during conference, you know it was a big statement win for us.”

As one of the most experienced players on the Shockers’ roster Udeze felt it was important to share with the young players what a win against the Bearcats would mean. 

“Since I’ve been here we haven’t beat them,” Udeze said. “I was telling the guys before the game, we’ve got to get this one. This one is at home, this is our first conference home game of the year, so. . . we haven’t beat them yet so we might as well just go grab this one at home.”

The Shockers currently stand in third place in the American Athletic Conference standings. Wichita State is one game back out of first place. Currently, No. 11 Houston Cougars are in first with a 5-1 conference record. 

Next up for the Shockers is a conference matchup against  Tulsa on Jan. 13 inside  Charles Koch Arena. Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and can be watched on ESPN+.