▪ Be prepared for a long day at the office.
Between substitutions and a total lack of fear of fouls, this game could last well into the Old Town night.
The Shockers use their bench for 47.4 percent of their minutes, tops in the nation. OSU is No. 9 at 43 percent. WSU averages 48.4 points from its reserves (No. 2 nationally); OSU gets 40.7 (No. 5).
WSU can expect — and needs — to get to the foul line.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
OSU plays so aggressively it fouls often. Because of its depth, it’s largely not a problem. Coach Brad Underwood is willing to trade a few fouls for the disarray and easy baskets his defense produces.
OSU opponents are 200 of 287 from the line, an average of 20 made foul shots a game. WSU opponents are 162 of 239, an average of 14.7 free throws made.
The Cowboys get to the line more than their opponent this season, but they’ve been outscored from the line in five games — including losses to North Carolina and Maryland and a four-point win over Tulsa.
▪ OSU depends on transition baskets. Making free throws is another way to keep the Cowboys from running.
The Shockers have to make OSU play against their half-court defense as much as possible. They can do that by making shots, not taking bad shots and not committing turnovers.
▪ WSU center Shaq Morris is playing through some pain, thanks to a right quad contusion. suffered in practice the day before the game against Oklahoma.
It was painful enough his availability for the Sooners game was a question.
“My quad just decided to shut down on me,” Morris said. “With my right leg, I’m about 60 percent. The more I feel the pain, it means the harder I have to go.”
Playing last week in his hometown of Oklahoma City and this week against another Big 12 opponent is plenty of motivation to ignore the injury. He practiced Friday after sitting out Monday and Tuesday and limiting his activity on Thursday.
“I don’t want to sit out any of these games,” he said.
▪ WSU fans watched Fred VanVleet dazzle in the pick-and-roll in recent seasons. Cowboys sophomore Juwan Evans is in that vein.
ESPN’s Jay Bilas compared him to Chris Paul for his skills during a Maui Invitational broadcast. Go under a screen or hesitate while defending and Evans will make a three or zip to the rim.
Evans takes 50 percent of his shots at the rim, according to hoop-math.com. VanVleet, in his final two seasons, took around 40 percent.
Much of OSU’s offense comes from Evans driving, scoring and passing.
WSU’s big men will be under pressure to help stop penetration, while not fouling. The Shockers — with rangy defenders such as Markis McDuffie, Landry Shamet, Zach Brown, Austin Reaves and Daishon Smith — switched more than usual against Oklahoma. I’m not sure that will work against OSU, but that tactic and the zone defense, also employed in the second half against OU, might be helpful to stop dribble drives.
“We’re definitely trying to keep the ball out of the paint and hedge hard,” Morris said. “We’re trying to keep Evans and all of their guards out of the paint.”
▪ OSU will work hard to keep the ball away from WSU’s primary ball-handlers and force players such as Brown, McDuffie and Kelly to dribble and pass against the press.
This might be a game where Smith, Shamet and Conner Frankamp play together often to give WSU maximum savvy ball-handlers. Frankamp’s careful ways will be helpful, but he’s also got to be decisive to make the Cowboys pay for gambling. Reaves’ skills match up. Indications are he can handle it, at least for a few minutes, but it’s a big ask for a freshman.
Secondary ball-handlers are vital. They must be solid with the ball. The Shockers usually aim for 12 or fewer turnovers. If they are in that range, consider it a huge success.
If the Shockers handle the heat, there are open shots available. OSU opponents are shooting 39.4 percent from three-point range.
OSU averages turnovers on 18.3 percent of its possessions, which puts it about in the middle of the nation. Its past three opponents — Maryland, Tulsa, Arkansas-Pine Bluff — scored 20 or more points off turnovers.
▪ While there should be no illusions about what the MVC might offer, let’s also recognize today is a day that could help the conference RPI.
The MVC is No. 11, according to warrennolan.com.
With games against No. 63 Oklahoma State (WSU), at No. 33 Valparaiso (Indiana State), No. 90 Iowa State (Drake), No. 173 Iowa (Northern Iowa), the Valley gets a chance to help itself.
In addition, Illinois State plays No. 54 Saint Joseph’s Sunday at home and Bradley plays at No. 38 Mississippi and No. 28 TCU before Christmas.
▪ Colorado State plays Kansas State at 2 p.m. in Denver.
A Rams win is potentially quite helpful for WSU’s schedule strength.
Oklahoma State at Wichita State
- When: 6 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Intrust Bank Arena
- Records: OSU 8-2, WSU 9-2
- Radio: KEYN, 103.7-FM
- TV: None
- Video: ESPN3.com (no blackouts)
Oklahoma State at Wichita State
Oklahoma State (8-2): The Cowboys average 93.5 points a game and 11.3 steals, both fourth nationally. … Coach Brad Underwood inherited a team with seven scholarship players and his freshmen are playing well. They account for 40.5 percent of OSU’s minutes and scored 19 of the team’s final 23 points in a 71-67 win at Tulsa. G Brandon Averette scored 17 points against Tulsa and is the Big 12 newcomer of the week. … F Jeffrey Carroll averages 15.9 points and 7.5 rebounds. He has started one game. He is shooting 57.5 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from three-point range. … Nine Cowboys average between 14 and 28 minutes. … OSU leads the series 29-8 and won meetings in 2001 and 2002. The Shockers return the game to Gallagher-Iba Arena next season.
Wichita State (9-2): McDuffie (knee) and C Shaq Morris (quad) both practiced Friday. Morris said he sat out practices Monday and Tuesday and did non-contact work on Thursday before returning to full action on Friday. … WSU ranks third nationally by holding teams to 34.6-percent shooting. … Morris blocked five shots in last week’s win over Oklahoma, 10th-most by a Shocker since 1985-86, when the NCAA began to track blocks. … WSU F Zach Brown averages 13.5 points over the past four games after scoring a career-high 17 against Oklahoma. Brown, a junior, is 7 of 13 from three-point range in those games, 17 of 19 from the foul line. … Hutchinson Community College sophomore guard Samajae Haynes-Jones, who signed with WSU in November, watched Friday’s practice at Intrust Bank Arena.
SATURDAY EVENING TIPS
▪ Arrive early (game starts at 6 p.m., doors open 90 minutes before that).
▪ Parking is available at the Lawrence-Dumont Stadium lot, with free shuttles to the game beginning at 4 p.m.
▪ Fans can also park in the Coleman lot at the intersection of Second Street and St. Francis. For additional information on where to park in downtown Wichita, visit www.parkdowntown.org.
Source: Intrust Bank Arena