▪ Winning teams usuall shoot more free throws than their opponents and that stat seems particularly important today for Wichita State.
The Utes, much like Northern Iowa, aren’t going to gamble or pressure much. They will make the Shockers shoot over tall players. Utah doesn’t foul much and it’s attempted 87 more free throws than opponents, outscoring them 152-89. Southern Utah shot seven free throws. Texas Tech shot 18. Temple shot nine and IPFW four.
That puts a special burden on WSU big men. Shaq Morris, Bush Wamukota and Rauno Nurger need to stay out of foul trouble, both to stay on the floor and keep the Utes from scoring.
▪ WSU puts its 35-game home win streak and 34 game home non-conference streaks on the line, both of which include annual games at Intrust Bank Arena.
Since 2013, WSU’s last home loss, its top opponents were Tennessee in the 2013-14 season, Seton Hall (receiving votes in the AP poll) and No. 10 Northern Iowa, both last season. Since 2011, WSU’s last home non-conference loss, add No. 18 UNLV in 2011-12 and Southern Mississippi in 2012-13 to that list.
I would put Utah at or above last season’s Northern Iowa as the top challenge to the win streaks.
The home win streak includes two games at Intrust Bank Arena; the non-conference home win streak includes four games downtown.
▪ Bob Lutz and I talked with Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin and associate commissioner Jack Watkins before the game.
Elgin met with WSU president John Bardo on Friday afternoon to discuss Bardo’s plans to look at conference affiliation. Elgin emphasized his respect for WSU and what it’s done, saying the rest of the conference is trying to catch up. He also emphasized his feelings that the MVC is improving and remains a good fit for WSU, geographically and otherwise.
We’ll write more about this in the coming days.