|No. 16 Wichita State steamrolling toward trip to Temple|
No. 16 Wichita State will bring a nine-game winning streak, capped by its two best victories of the season, into an American Athletic Conference game on Wednesday against a Temple team looking to jump-start its offense.
The Shockers rose seven places in the AP Top 25 after conference wins over then-No. 21 Memphis and UConn last week, the latter an 89-86 double-overtime thriller Sunday in only their second true road game of the season.
"We were tremendously tough and ratty in pursuing balls, getting stops," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said.
Ratty is a good thing.
The Shockers (15-1, 3-0 AAC) were one of eight Division I teams with one loss or fewer through Monday, although they had a few tense moments getting there last week. They let a 19-point, second-half lead dwindle to six before beating Memphis 76-67, and they lost a nine-point lead with 1:05 remaining in regulation to force overtime at UConn.
Freshman guard Tyson Etienne, whose potential game-winning tip-in rimmed out at the end of the first overtime, made a three-point play early in the second overtime to give the Shockers a lead they never lost.
Six-foot-11 center Jaime Echenique had a season-high 19 points in a season-best 37 minutes as Marshall played to the Shockers' height advantage inside, with Erik Stevenson scoring 16. Both fouled out.
"I don't know if we proved anything to ourselves because we've known it," Etienne said.
"A team like us, a young team, we needed to go into an environment like this on the road and win it. I think it was a big plus for us. Everyone wants to walk in and win by 20, but college basketball isn't like that, especially a conference game on the road."
Stevenson is averaging 14.1 points per game to lead the balanced Shockers, who have four players averaging at least 10 points and seven averaging at least seven. Eight players have started at least five games.
The Shockers' only loss was a 75-63 setback to No. 12 West Virginia in the finals of the Cancun Classic on Nov. 27 when they shot 30.6 percent from the field. Wichita State shot 32.8 percent against Memphis.
"We've got some things to iron out and get better at, but that's why I'm gainfully employed," Marshall said.
Temple (9-6,1-3) has lost three in a row after opening conference play with a victory at Central Florida. Simply making baskets has been the issue.
The Owls are shooting 40.4 percent from the field, which ranked 317th among the 350 in Division I schools entering Monday, and have made just 32.2 percent from 3-point range, which ranked 235th. They shot a mere 31.5 percent in a 65-51 home loss to Tulane on Saturday.
"The name of the game is put the ball in the hole, and we are struggling with that," former Temple star and first-year coach Aaron McKie said. "We're playing like a finesse team. We're taking a lot of threes, too many. We have a team that should be attacking the paint."
Guard Quinton Rose leads the Owls in scoring with a 14.4 average, and guard Nate Pierre-Louis is the only other player in double-figures at 10.6. Neither is shooting over 39 percent from the field or over 26 percent from 3-point range. Pierre-Louis, at 6-foot-4, leads the team with 8.8 rebounds a game.
"Everyone goes through it," Rose said of the shooting woes. "You can't get discouraged or not take the shot, because that's the shot the team wants. It will fall eventually."
--Field Level Media