Shockers look to continue climb up AAC standings


Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower

Sophomore Tyson Etienne dribbles the ball down the court against USF. Etienne secured 12 points and four rebounds during the game.

After getting off to an 0-4 start in AAC play, the Shockers are back in the mix for a first round bye in next month’s conference tournament. 

The Shockers have won four straight home games and currently sit in eighth place through 10 conference games. WSU is still looking for their first road conference win of the season, as they continue their climb up the standings.

WSU will have their most daunting stretch of the season in the next three games, starting with a road contest against Cincinnati on Thursday . They’ll then host conference favorite Houston on Sunday and then travel to Memphis to wrap up the three-game stretch.

“That’s a tough schedule, but as a college athlete, that’s what you want,” head coach Isaac Brown said. “If we can win these games one at a time, that’ll help put us in position to get higher up on the conference standings, and hopefully we can play well at Cincinnati. We need these three games.”

WSU has shown flashes during this recent stretch but has struggled closing out games in some moments. In three of the team’s six losses in AAC play, the Shockers have blown a double digit lead but WSU is starting to figure out how to win close games at home.

The next step is figuring out how to close out their first road win since Dec. 1 against Oklahoma State.

“Offensively, it’s simple. We’ve got to do two things — you’ve got to value the basketball and take good shots,” Brown said. “We’ve got to defend at a high level, we’ve got to rebound at a high level and we can’t let their press bother us. If we can do those things, I think we’ve got a great chance to win on the road.”

Key to this midseason turnaround has been WSU’s increased offensive numbers. The Shockers have shot over 40% in the last two wins, along with Tyson Etienne and Dexter Dennis finding more consistency from deep.

“I think the biggest thing is we’re starting to make shots now,” Brown said. “Early on, in the first three conference games of the year, we were shooting right at 30% from the three-point line. These last four or five games, we’ve moved up to 37-38%. We’re not turning it over as much.”

Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday night at Cincinnati. The game will also be broadcast on ESPN2.