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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Men’s basketball upsets Memphis, advances to quarterfinals in AAC tournament

Kristy Mace
Colby Rogers and Bijan Cortes defend against Memphis player during the first half. Wichita State defeated the No. 5 team in the second round of the American Athletic Conference tournament.

Wichita State men’s basketball defeated the reigning American Athletic Conference Champions in the second round of the tournament. In Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, the Shockers beat Memphis, 71-65. 

“This wasn’t a good win, a great win, (or) an ugly win — it was an expected win,” head coach Paul Mills said.

The 12th-seed Shockers figured out how to beat Memphis, the fifth seed, after facing off against the Tigers two times this season. The first time, Memphis crushed the Shockers with a 112-86 win in Charles Koch Arena. In its second meeting, the Tigers made a last-second shot to avoid the home upset, 65-63.

Redshirt junior Harlond Beverly said the first two games helped Wichita State improve to beat Memphis. 

“We learned a lot those first two games, and I feel like what we learned in those first two games really propelled us to help us to win today,” Beverly said. 

Mills said teams have to go through adversities and learn to clean things up, especially when facing off against a familiar foe. 

“I do think that you can draw back on those experiences, and they propel you forward when games are tight like this,” Mills said. 

Wichita State came in hot after Wednesday’s win against Rice. Junior center Quincy Ballard made the first points for Wichita State on a dunk, and the Shockers managed to create an early lead off of two 3-pointers from Rogers and junior guard Bijan Cortes. 

Memphis managed a 9-0 run to secure the lead, 18-14, which prompted a timeout by Wichita State to stop the Tigers’ momentum. The Shockers came back to steady themselves on a Rogers 3-pointer and a layup from junior forward Ronnie DeGray III to put them back on top by one, 19-18. 

No team led by more than three points the rest of the first half. A driving layup from junior guard Xavier Bell sent the Shockers into the locker room up by two, 35-33. 

Wichita State had a rocky first half shooting 4-of-12 from beyond the arc, compared to the 8-of-13 in the first half against Rice. 

Wichita State extended the lead at the start of the second half, going on a 9-0 run to put them ahead by 11, 44-33 with 16 minutes left, forcing a Memphis timeout.

Wichita State managed to increase the lead to 13 on a live ball turnover turned layup by DeGray with 12:42 to play.

Beverly made two free throws to extend the lead to 14, but the Tigers responded with a layup, 54-41. 

From there, the Shockers were caught in a scoring drought that lasted more than four minutes, which Memphis capitalized on with a 9-0 run. The Shockers broke the spell on a pair of free throws from Rogers with five minutes left. 

Wichita State found themselves in another dry spell that lasted two minutes. Memphis was finally able to take the lead for the first time since the first half with an 8-0 run, making the score 58-57 with three minutes left.  

Wichita State pulled it together in the end with an alley-oop from Ballard followed by a Rogers 3-pointer and a subsequent layup from DeGray to take the lead, 64-58 with 1:33 remaining in regulation.  

Beverly sealed the game with a driving layup and a free throw to send Wichita State to the quarterfinals. 

Beverly led the Shockers with 17 points, six rebounds and five blocks. Rogers, who broke the school’s record for most 3-pointers in a season against Rice, scored just 13 points and went 3-8 from the 3-point line. 

Rogers said that winning at this point in the year matters the most.

“We kept pushing and kept grinding because, before the game, coach said the tougher teams are going to win and that means mentally and physically,” Rogers said. “I think we accomplished that today.”  

Up next, Wichita State men’s basketball will fight to keep its season going against the fourth-seeded University of Alabama at Birmingham on Friday, March 15. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Melanie Rivera-Cortez
Melanie Rivera-Cortez, Sports Editor
Kristy Mace
Kristy Mace, Photo Editor
Kristy Mace is the photo editor for The Sunflower. She's majoring in psychology. Currently a junior, Mace hopes to go on to get her Ph.D. and become a neuropsychologist. She also plays for Wichita State's bowling team and does professional photography aside from The Sunflower.

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