Dexter Dennis continues to make his presence felt in victory over Tulane


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower

Wichita State junior Dexter Dennis gets upset at a call during the game against Tulane at Charles Koch Arena on Feb. 3.

Wichita State men’s basketball defeated Tulane on Wednesday, 75-67, picking up its second straight victory. Junior Dexter Dennis was a catalyst in the victory, holding Tulane’s Jaylen Forbes to nine. 

Coming into the game, Forbes was averaging a team-high 15.5 points and coming off a 23-point performance against Temple. But just as he has done all season, Dennis had the answer defensively. 

Forbes finished the game with nine points and every point came from the free-throw line. Forbes missed all 13 of his shot attempts for his second-lowest output of the season.

“Every game I know that I’m going to get the other team’s best player and my job is to give 100% effort and make it hard as long as I can,” Dennis said. “Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Some of the times I am proud of the way I defend players, sometimes I’m not but sometimes I think that’s me being hard on myself.”

Dennis hasn’t had the kind of season he has wanted offensively this year but his impact has still been felt. Dennis has been able to contain the likes of Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham and Missouri’s Xavier Pinson which gave the Shockers a chance to win those games early on in the season. 

Cunningham and Pinson combined for 13 points on 20.8% shooting. 

“We wouldn’t be who we are without him. I mean that in other aspects other than locking people up,” sophomore Tyson Etienne said. “He’s a great teammate, he does everything the right way, he’s an elite defender. Every day he’s guarding the team’s best scorer and for him to have the resume that he has is amazing. I’m thankful that he plays like that even though the shot might not be dropping at the rate that he wants it to be. ”

Dennis is currently averaging a career-low 8.0 points per game on 26.2% on three-pointers. The junior guard finished with a career-high 9.2 points per game last season but may have turned a corner on Wednesday. Dennis finished with eight points against Tulane while going 2-5 from beyond the arc. 

Interim Head Coach Isaac Brown said that Dennis’ effort on the defensive end can be a lesson to the younger players. 

“I tell the young guys all the time, Dexter is not shooting a great percentage from the three-point line but we know that’s going to come,” Brown said. “But Dexter plays 20-30 minutes every game because he does the little things. He defends at a high level, he rebounds at a high level and he takes good shots. I hope all the guys that are not playing the minutes they want understand that it’s not about your scoring.”

One of the aspects that Dennis has added to his defensive repertoire are chase-down blocks. When a player goes up for a layup, Dennis has excelled at chasing down the opposition and blocking the opponent’s shot attempts against the backboard. Dennis has collected two chase-down blocks in the last two games which can be a momentum changer. 

According to KenPom, Dennis has the 11th-best block percentage in conference play at 3.3%.

“He never gives up on a play,” Brown said. “We call those winning plays when you can chase a guy down and block it on a backboard and when we can get that ball and go to the other end. So I just love his effort defensively and he’s doing a great job. I’m just excited for the kid.”

Although it is more difficult to work on defense, Dennis said he has focused on three aspects to continue to improve. 

“It’s film, it’s anticipation and a lot of ‘the will’ to do it,” Dennis said. “I know it’s probably not the easiest thing to do, a lot of people really don’t want to do it but I think it’s fun in taking pride in not being scored on. What you try to do is make them as uncomfortable as much as you can and force them to things that they’re not comfortable doing.”

Dennis and the Shockers will look to continue their winning ways against Temple on Wednesday at Charles Koch Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU.