Shockers fall to Memphis by 20 points


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower

Wichita State redshirt senior Alterique Gilbert drives to the basket during the game against ESU at Charles Koch Arena on Dec. 18.

Wichita State men’s basketball lost to Memphis on Thursday, 72-52. The Shockers are now 8-4 on the season and 4-2 in conference play. 

In a close first half, the Shockers were able to take a 15-14 with 5:59 left in the half but that would be the last time WSU led in the game. The Tigers went on to outscore WSU 11-4 in the final six minutes of the half.

The Shockers faced a 25-19 deficit at halftime. In the first half, WSU had its worst three-point shooting half in school history as the Shockers went 0-12 from beyond the arc. 

The previous mark came Dec. 19, 2007 WSU missed all 11 first-half attempts in a 67-47 win over Louisiana State University.

Interim Head Coach Isaac Brown said that the loss was due to a lack of energy.

“We just didn’t play well,” Brown said. “We didn’t defend at a high level and we didn’t execute on offense. We just didn’t have energy.”

Brown said the team will use the loss to better prepare in the future.

“I don’t know what it was, but we’ve got to play harder and we’ve got to play smarter,” he said. “Give Memphis all the credit, they were just the better team than us tonight in all phases of the game.”

Memphis was able to continue that momentum into the second half, outscoring the Shockers 47-33 in the final 20 minutes of play. 

The Shockers struggled to find answers to Memphis’ defense throughout and went on to shoot 29.4% from the field and 8.7% on three-point attempts. 

“We haven’t seen a defense like that,” freshman Ricky Council IV said. “Coach told us that from the beginning. They’re really aggressive, they’re long and they trap a lot. They trap aggressively. That kind of put us out of sort in the beginning.”

Memphis has been able to establish themselves as one of the top defenses in the country, so the Shockers’ offensive struggles don’t come as a surprise. The Tigers currently have the sixth-best defense in the nation, according to KenPom. 

Brown said that the  key to success is for WSU to not let their offensive struggles affect their defense. 

“Going into the game we talked about Memphis being a long and athletic team,” Brown said. “We talked about if we’re not scoring, we still have to defend and rebound at a high level. They were the tougher team, give them all the credit.”

WSU’s leading scorer Tyson Etienne scored a season-low three points while going 1-12 from the field. 

Brown said that Memphis’ size and athleticism bothered WSU on offense. 

“When we tried to run our sets, they would trap us and they wouldn’t allow us to run any offense,” he said. “That made it a breakdown game and we weren’t able to make good plays. We didn’t make any plays at the rim. We didn’t do a good job of attacking and taking good shots.” 

With the loss to Memphis, the Shockers are now on a six-day layoff before they will next hit the court again. Brown said that the team’s energy was a concern against the Tigers.

“We just didn’t have energy,” Brown said. “I don’t know what it was, but we’ve got to play smarter and harder. Give Memphis all the credit. They were just the better team than us tonight in all phases of the game.”

Memphis was picked to finish in the league during the offseason but the Tigers had gotten off to a sluggish 7-5 start and are currently 3-2 in conference play. 

Tigers Head Coach Penny Hardaway said that this was the most complete game they had played all season.

“We looked like a basketball team tonight for 40 minutes,” Hardaway said. “To beat them handily, it shows our guys we can compete with anyone.”

The Wichita State Shockers next play on Wednesday as they travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats. Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 5 p.m and will be broadcast on ESPN+.