Shockers await quarterfinals opponent in the AAC Tournament


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower

Wichita State sophomore Tyson Etienne looks up during a time out during the game against USF on March 6 at Charles Koch Arena.

With Wichita State sitting on the NCAA Tournament bubbld, a week before Selection Sunday, the AAC Tournament proves vital in the Shockers’ chances of returning to the big dance. 

WSU is set to face off against the winner of Temple and South Florida, with the Shockers going a combined 3-0 against those teams in the regular season. 

The Shockers swept a pair of matchups against USF but both games were much different. WSU outlasted USF in a close overtime game on the road. But in their regular-season finale, WSU defeated the Bulls handily by 17 points. WSU only matched up with Temple once this season as the Owls’ COVID-19 issues caused the second matchup to be canceled. 

Head Coach Isaac Brown said that the team is getting healthy as they look to secure the automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. 

“They’ve got an opportunity to do some great stuff heading into the conference tournament,” Brown said. “We’ll have Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler back, we’ve got some guys healthy. So we’ll go down there and try to win that tournament.” 

Even with the team collecting the regular-season title, the team has remained focused on the next task. 

“It hasn’t really hit me yet because there’s a lot more than needs to be done,” junior Dexter Dennis said. “It’s hard to celebrate when we have more games to play. I think we’ll smell the roses for today and tomorrow and then it’s right back to work for us.” 

Early on in the preseason, the Shockers were picked to finish seventh in the conference but with the regular-season title, they secured the one-seed for the conference tournament. 

Dennis said that even with the championship, they are still looking to prove people wrong in the tournament.

“It’s tough because people get complacent. We’ve still got a lot of people to prove wrong. We’ve been proving people wrong since the beginning of this year. With this group, whether we win or lose, it’s on to the next task.”

In Saturday’s game against the Bulls, the three-pointer was a huge catalyst to the victory as the team went 11-27 from beyond the arc. Brown said that the three-pointer can be a game-changer, especially heading into the conference tournament. 

“Anytime you can make two or three in a row, the lead can go from zero to nine pretty quick,” Brown said. “Our guys have put in the work. They come in after practice and get up shots and it’s paying off.” 

The conference tournament will be held in Fort Worth Texas at the Dickies Arena. WSU’s matchup with the Bulls or Owls will take place on Friday at 11 a.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.