Wichita State Shockers

How clutch is Wichita State in the final minute?

Cincinnati forward Kyle Washington celebrates as WSU's Conner Frankamp walks off the court after the Bearcats beat  Wichita State to claim the AAC title March 4 at Koch Arena.
Cincinnati forward Kyle Washington celebrates as WSU's Conner Frankamp walks off the court after the Bearcats beat Wichita State to claim the AAC title March 4 at Koch Arena. The Wichita Eagle

Can you remember the last time Wichita State scored a go-ahead or game-tying shot in the final minute of a game?

It might take you some time, because it's been more than three years since Rashard Kelly flew down the lane and scored on a follow-up dunk with three seconds remaining for the game-winning basket in WSU's 80-79 win over Hawaii on Dec. 23, 2014.

Since then, the Shockers have missed 19 straight shots that could have tied or given them the lead in the final minute. In 25 possessions for those scenarios, WSU has come up empty 22 times (12-percent success rate).

"We've got to figure it out," WSU coach Gregg Marshall said before the NCAA Tournament selections were made. "I have no idea who we'll play, what region we'll be in, what bracket we'll be in, but we're going to play a good team, so we've got to figure out how to win games against those quality opponents."

To advance in the NCAA Tournament, which begins Friday in San Diego for No. 4 seed WSU (25-7) against No. 13 seed Marshall (24-10), WSU's players know they will likely have to reverse that trend.

WSU has missed all six game-tying or go-ahead shots this season and come up empty on nine of 10 possessions with its only success coming on a Conner Frankamp step-back jumper against Cincinnati to cut the deficit from three points to one in an eventual 62-61 loss on March 4.

"We've only got one loss left in us," WSU sophomore Landry Shamet said. "We can decide when that's going to be or if that's going to be. Right now it's just frustrating in these games where we can't finish."

Missed chances have haunted the Shockers in four of their seven losses this season.

Shamet had the ball poked away in the closing seconds of a one-point loss to Notre Dame. Zach Brown missed the potential game-winning three in the corner at the buzzer against Temple, then Markis McDuffie missed the game-winning three in overtime as WSU fell in Philadelphia. Shamet, Frankamp, and Willis all had chances to win it against Cincinnati on Senior Day at Koch Arena. Then last Saturday, Austin Reaves threw the ball away, down one, against Houston in the semifinal loss and Shamet missed a three that could have forced overtime.

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Wichita State's Landry Shamet looks away as Temple's Ernest Aflakpui, right, celebrates the win with teammates Feb. 1, in Philadelphia. Chris Szagola Associated Press

"When it comes down to it, we shouldn't even let the game get down to those kind of chances," Frankamp said.

A benefit could be the experience WSU gained through so many close games. The Shockers have had 26 possessions in the final minute of single-possession games, which is more than the previous two seasons combined (four in 2016-17 and 14 in 2015-16) heading into the NCAA Tournament.

When WSU is playing in front, it has usually been very good. When their lead is three points or fewer in the final minute, the Shockers have extended the lead 10 times in 15 possessions (19 points) for a 67-percent success rate.

But the lack of a go-ahead or game-tying shot is magnified by the four times (in 14 possessions) opponents have produced game-winning or game-tying plays in the final seconds this season.

Notre Dame made a pair of free throws with two seconds left to take the lead. Temple scored a game-tying layup with seven seconds left in regulation to force overtime, then won it with go-ahead free throws in the final 20 seconds. Central Florida banked in a game-tying three-pointer before the buzzer to force overtime.

"It's something we've got to correct right now," Frankamp said. "One more time and we're going home. We work on that kind of stuff every day in practice, but we've just got to work on it more I guess. We can't let something like that happen again or we're going home."

WSU is 4-5 in games this season where it has had at least one possession in the final minute when the trailing team had a chance to tie or take the lead. The Shockers are 7-13 in such games the last three seasons and haven't enjoyed regular late-game success since the 2014-15 season when they made 7 of 13 go-ahead shots and won four of six games decided in the final minute.

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