Saturday’s box score
No. 12 WSU 70, Tennessee 61
Playing with pain
Wichita State guard Ron Baker sprained his left ankle in Thursday’s practice and opinions varied on how quickly he could recover.
Coach Gregg Marshall described the ankle as so swollen it appeared Baker had two golf balls lodged under his skin.
“It was nasty,” Marshall said. “I’m thinking it’s broken, and who knows how long he’s going to be out.”
Teammate Tekele Cotton saw him walking on it and began to believe.
“I knew Ron would play because I knew the type of person Ron is,” Cotton said. “It looked bad, but he’s tough.”
Baker, who didn’t practice Friday, played 32 minutes in Saturday’s win over Tennessee. He waited until about 40 minutes before the game to make his decision.
“It was pretty sore,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I was limited, it was just hard fighting the pain. I had pretty good mobility in my ankle. A lot of the swelling was gone.”
Wichita State is 4-0 at Intrust Bank Arena and it’s hard to remember why anybody objected to these games.
The Shockers, clearly, love them. And the fans are responding, despite the fact the best home game of the season wasn’t a part of the season-ticket package. Saturday’s game drew 14,356 fans, the biggest crowd of the four games. WSU’s 2010 game against Tulsa drew 14,112 fans and attendance declined to 11,204 in 2011 and 9,619 last season.
Saturday’s game should win over any doubters.
“Awesome,” Marshall said. “There’s not a place like Koch Arena. But this is fun, too. In the second half, it was deafening at times.”
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin agreed. Playing in an arena filled with loud fans is good preparation for his team. He coached three seasons at Missouri State, so he knew what to expect.
“Just calling plays in a hostile environment, all those things will help you if you learn from them in the right way,” Martin said. “Tremendous atmosphere.”
Ten NBA scouts requested credentials for Saturday’s game, including representatives from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers and Phoenx Suns.… WSU went 0 for 2 from the line in the first half and 18 of 22 in the second. It outscored Tennessee 18-15 at the line.… WSU’s Darius Carter grabbed 14 rebounds, most by a player in the arena’s five NCAA Division I games. He topped the mark of 12 by West Virginia’s Kevin Jones against Kansas State in 2011. No Shocker had more than seven.… WSU leads the series 3-1 after avenging last season’s 69-60 loss at Knoxville.