Familiar foes: Wichita State looks to send Kentucky packing

Zach Brown and Wichita State advanced Friday night with a hard-fought 64-58 victory against No. 7 seed Dayton.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — The seeds are slightly different, but Kentucky and Wichita State have been right here before.

In 2014 in St. Louis, then-No. 8 seed Kentucky ended then-No. 1 seed Wichita State’s dream season and 35-game winning streak, 78-76 in second-round action.

At approximately 2:40 p.m. on Sunday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, South Regional No. 2 seed Kentucky (30-5) and No. 10 seed Wichita State (31-4) will meet again for a slot in the Sweet 16.

Wichita State advanced Friday night with a hard-fought 64-58 victory against No. 7 seed Dayton, a game in which the Shockers limited the Flyers to 31 percent field goal shooting (18 of 58), including 22 percent (9 of 41) other than guard Scoochie Smith and his 25 points.

The Shockers, who have won 16 in a row, shot only 39.6 percent (19 of 48) but won the rebounding battle, 48-29, converting that figure into a 19-8 advantage in second-chance points.

Now, Wichita State gets another shot at Kentucky’s stable of future NBA players.

“The guys that they bring in are a little more ready-made for the NBA with the size, athleticism, and (John Calipari) gets them better, and he gets them prepared for the NBA as well as anyone,” Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said of facing Kentucky.

“Ours take a little more time in the incubator, and developing and working with them and developing their bodies and their skill-sets and teaching them to play angry. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how you get there.”

Wichita State’s Zach Brown, who scored 13 against Dayton, knows the task the Shockers face on Sunday against a Kentucky team that has won 12 in a row after Friday night’s 79-70 victory against No. 15 seed Northern Kentucky.

“It’s going to take a lot,” Brown said. “We’ve definitely seen them play. Everybody has seen Kentucky play. They have guys that can take you off the bounce at any time. They are really good. They are not going to back down, just like we’re not.”

Calipari got 19 points from freshman guard De’Aaron Fox and 15 points and 18 rebounds from freshman center Bam Adebayo on Friday night, although the coach didn’t think his Wildcats were on point.

“We know how tough this next opponent is,” Calipari said. “Wichita State is tough physically. They are veterans, and they play very hard. They are a very, very talented team, and we know that. We are going to have to play better than we did Friday night to even be in the game with them.”

Kentucky freshman guard Malik Monk says the Wildcats will be ready.

“We have to keep our energy up from the get go,” Monk said. “Coach says the first (NCAA victory) is always the hardest, so it’s good to get that one out of the way.”