‘We need every single game:’ Shockers secure gutsy road win over Missouri


Sean Marty / The Sunflower

Qua Grant drives towards the basket during the game against Missouri inside Mizzou Arena on Nov. 26.

COLUMBIA – Wichita State passed its first road test of the season with flying colors on Friday, defeating Missouri 61-55. 

The victory came with some growing pains, after WSU tallied a season-high 18 turnovers, many of which came in fast break situations. The Shockers’ potent defense helped them overcome the offensive blunders, limiting the Tigers to 34.8% shooting from the field and 2-18 on three-pointers. 

Mizzou’s 55 points were the fewest points allowed by the Shockers all season.

“In my eight years at Wichita State, we were one of the best teams on the road in the country, and it wasn’t about our offense,” Head Coach Isaac Brown said. “In order to be a team to get a win, you have to defend, rebound, play with toughness, and we executed tonight.”

WSU’s defensive game plan was to stay in the gaps and force the Tigers into contested jump shots. The Shockers followed suit with the Tigers shooting 11.8% on three-pointers.

The Shockers now have the No. 45 defensive efficiency in the NCAA, according to KenPom, which is the fourth best in the American Athletic Conference.

“One of our focuses day in and day out is just defending,” junior guard Craig Porter Jr. said. “Our defense is going to speak for ourselves every night, just making our offense flow into the game. That’s a big emphasis for us.”

Porter played a key role in limiting the dribble penetration, while also helping crash the glass for an undersized Shocker team. The Terre Haute, Indiana native grabbed seven rebounds and four assists, despite not tallying a single point.

“He’s always trying to get the ball to guys in a position to score,” Brown said. “He’s a great rebounder, he got in there and got some big rebounds tonight. He did a great job on defense. We were switching 1-4 on ball screens and I thought he came up big just the way he executed down the stretch.”

Tyson Etienne continued his effectiveness in second halves this season, scoring 13 of his team-high 18 points in the final 20 minutes of play. Etienne had another efficient outing, going 7-17 from the field and 3-9 from downtown.

“At the end of the day, the best player on the court has to step up and make plays,” Etienne said. “Whether that be putting the basketball in the rim or making the right play to the teammate, I feel like my team relies on me to make those plays and I’m not going to let my team down.”

Etienne has a reputation as a closer for the Shockers after his breakout sophomore season and his heroics early on this season. Brown said he trusts Etienne in those situations because of the caliber of player he is and his experience.

“I’ve got confidence in him,” Brown said. “He makes big shots, we want the ball in his hand late in the game. We’ve got multiple guys that score the basket but he’s a tremendous closer, he can make tough shots and can make free throws down the stretch.”

WSU notched their first ever victory over Mizzou and also their first against a Power-Five opponent this season. The Tigers are off to a 3-3 start but the Shockers were pleased to secure a quality road victory this early on in the season.

“I told the guys before the game ‘every game’s important’,” Etienne said. “There’s no moral victories. We go out and lose, nobody’s going to be like ‘well, they played hard’. We need every single game, so to go on the road, Thanksgiving, focus could be going anywhere. But I feel like we stayed locked in to the scouting report, to our game plan and we did what we need to do.”

The Shockers will travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Porter said. “Obviously we pulled out a big one tonight but we left a lot out there on the floor. We’ll get it right, especially going to Oklahoma State.”