Wichita State will play men’s basketball games against Oklahoma in 2016 and 2017 at downtown arenas, coach Gregg Marshall said Monday on his weekly radio show on KNSS, 1330-AM.
The Shockers will play the Sooners at Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena, home of the Oklahoma City Thunder, on Dec. 10, 2016. Oklahoma visits Intrust Bank Arena in 2017, date to be determined.
WSU interim director of athletics Darron Boatright credited Devon Smith, WSU’s manager of player development, with starting the conversations that produced the series. Smith said he cold-called, almost four years ago, OU director of operations Mike Shepherd, who is from Burlingame and was team manager at Kansas State under coach Lon Kruger, now coach at OU. Smith said he pitched the natural fit of two improving programs and the geography.
After last season, the discussion got serious again with Smith and WSU director of operations Dominic Okon guiding the search for dates and terms. Boatright, Okon and Smith handle much of WSU’s scheduling, working year-round to find schools willing to play and dates that work before presenting options to Marshall.
Both teams will look much different next season. WSU loses five seniors, including guards Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. The Sooners, ranked No. 2 in Monday’s Associated Press poll, lose national Player of the Year candidate Buddy Hield, guard Isaiah Cousins, forward Ryan Spangler and three other seniors.
The game would represent a homecoming for Shockers Shaq Morris, from Edmond, Okla., and John Robert Simon, from Oklahoma City.
WSU and OU last played in 1975, a 65-60 Shockers win in Wichita. OU leads the series 4-1.
It will be WSU’s first regular-season game against a Big 12 school since a win over Texas Tech in 2009.
The addition brings WSU’s 2016-17 schedule closer to completion.
WSU will play at Colorado State on Dec. 3 in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge Series. Saint Louis, Tulsa and South Dakota State are scheduled to visit Koch Arena. WSU has not set a game for Intrust Bank Arena in 2016. It could play Saint Louis or Tulsa there and it can also use the lure of the arena to attract a high-profile opponent, as it did with Utah and Tennessee in past seasons.
“We’ll probably consider a good home-and-one series starting here and then we just need to get some buy games to round out our schedule,” Boatright said.
Boatright said the delayed New Mexico State game remains under discussion. The teams were supposed to play on Dec. 28 before snow kept New Mexico State from flying to Wichita. Athletic directors at both schools have said they want to play the game this season.
“No movement,” Boatright said. “That would still be our intent, to play it this year if we can.”