Shockers handily defeat SMU, secure third straight home win


Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower

After freshman Ricky Council IV stole the ball from the SMU Mustangs’ and made a lay-up, juniors Qua Grant, Joe Pleasant, and freshman Kenny Pohto cheer. The Shockers defeated the Mustangs, 72-57.

After a 0-4 start to conference play, Wichita State looks to be turning the corner by knocking off second place SMU, 72-57 on Saturday. 

The Shockers have now won two straight games for the first time since December and are now 3-5 in AAC play. WSU won its third straight game at home, while handing SMU its second loss in the last 15 games.

“A game like today, we really needed this game,” sophomore Tyson Etienne said. “I kind of called it the ‘Super Bowl’ before the game. I felt there was that much on the line for our season and at this important juncture.”

After a successful shot by sophomore Clarence Jackson, Shocker fans cheer in the student section. (Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower)

For the sixth straight AAC game, the Shockers built a double-digit lead over their opponent but Saturday’s win was one of the few times they’ve finished teams off. The Shockers are 3-3 in those games but WSU led by double digits in 30 of the 40 minutes against SMU. 

The Shockers have placed an importance on finishing these games, especially with these recent late-game blunders. WSU feels Saturday’s win was another step in the right direction in protecting these double-digit leads.

“We’ve learned enough from what we’ve been going through, it turned into wisdom and understanding,” Etienne said. “I believe that we are making a turn, those two games back to back where we had a nice little lead but now we had the wherewithal to protect it.”

Dexter Dennis delivered another elite defensive performance on Saturday, limiting SMU’s leading scorer Kendric Davis to a season-low eight points. Davis was held to 1-for-7 shooting, along with multiple airballs. 

Dennis has been known for shutting down the best players in the AAC over the last couple years and Saturday was another example of that. Dennis’ length and size never allowed Davis to get comfortable — a common theme for Dennis’ matchups.

“Dexter Dennis did a hell of a job tonight,” sophomore Tyson Etienne said. “Kendric Davis is electric, he’s a three level scorer and Dex did a really good job on him. Everybody locked in but Dexter did a great job on the ball today, just making him have to fight for everything.”

The Shocker defense as a whole turned in one of their best defensive performances of the season, limiting SMU to a season-low 57 points, while also forcing 17 turnovers. The Mustangs also struggled from deep, going 5-for-20 (25%) on three-pointers.

Freshman Ricky Council IV goes up for a two point shot on the SMU Mustangs on Feb. 5. (Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower)

Ricky Council IV said the team felt more connected on the defensive end, resulting in one of the best performances by WSU this season.

“It felt great to be out there and we just felt connected, all on the same point,” Council said. “A couple times they just had to throw up something because they really had nothing else to do.”

The Shocker bench delivered a key boost, with Council, Kenny Pohto and Clarence Jackson combining for 33 points. Council scored 20 points and delivered some key buckets down the stretch. 

Since AAC play has started, the freshman guard has provided a much needed offensive punch off the bench, scoring 13.6 points per game in that timeframe. Council has led WSU in scoring in three of the past four games, including a 31 point performance against UCF last week.

“He’s confident. We’ve talked to him more about winning games,” head coach Isaac Brown said. “We can’t be out there just hooping, don’t turn it over and I felt he did a great job tonight. He played within the system, he defended at a high level and he didn’t turn it over. As long as he’s doing that, he’s one of the better scorers in the league.” 

The Shockers will be back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Orlando to take on UCF. Tip-off is for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU.