No. 3 Wichita State faces nation’s top scorer
No. 3 Wichita State can add another quality win to its resume on Saturday when high-scoring Oklahoma and star freshman guard Trae Young visit INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan., for a non-conference battle between two teams off to hot starts.
The Shockers (8-1) have won four in a row, a streak highlighted by road wins over then-No. 16 Baylor and Oklahoma State. Sophomore guard Landry Shamet scored a season-high 30 points, connecting on 14 of 16 free throws, in a hard-fought, physical 78-66 win over the Cowboys last Saturday.
“A lot of guys were beaten up and banged up,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall told reporters this week about the aftermath of the Oklahoma State win. “It was a very physical basketball game.”
The Shockers will have a chance to pick up a third win over a Big 12 foe this month. It won’t be easy. Oklahoma is playing well.
The Sooners (7-1) are coming off an 85-83 win over then-No. 25 USC last Friday in a Hall of Fame Basketball Classic game in Los Angeles. Young had 29 points and nine assists to lead Oklahoma to its fifth straight win.
Young is averaging 28.8 points, tops in the nation, and has scored at least 28 points in six straight outings. Christian James and Khadeem Lattin also average double figures for Oklahoma, but it’s Young, the heralded freshman, who is fueling an up-tempo Sooners offense that is averaging 93.3 points, third most in the nation. Oklahoma has been held under 90 points only three times this season.
Oklahoma’s transition game is a concern for Wichita State, which has held opponents to 68.2 points per game. Marshall said the best way for the Shockers to slow down the Sooners is to score themselves.
“If we score, they have to take the ball out of the basket,” Marshall said. “That is one way — to score so they don’t get it. They don’t have to take it that extra couple of feet to slow down the break. You have to take good shots, and you can’t turn it over. Those are the three things you have to do. They are going to get some transition, they are an elite transition team. Hopefully we can get some as well.”
Shamet leads the Shockers in scoring (16.3 points) and assists (4.3). His head-to-head matchup with Young could be the difference on Saturday.
“Trae plays really hard, as does Landry,” Marshall said. “I think it will be a game within the game, to watch these guys go head-to-head. It should be a dynamic confrontation. More than likely, the guy who has the best day, his team will win.”
After the win over Oklahoma State, Wichita State moved up to No. 3 in this week’s polls. The Shockers aren’t satisfied, though.
“There’s still work to be done. We’re No. 3, but we’re still not No. 1, so we aren’t the best team,” Wichita State forward Rashard Kelly, the Shockers’ leading rebounder, said. “We are still going to play physical and still try to prove our way to the top.”
The two teams met last year in Oklahoma City, with the Shockers prevailing 76-73. Shamet hit just 3 of 10 shots and was held to six points.
Saturday’s game will be the seventh meeting between the Sooners and Shockers. Oklahoma leads the series 4-2. It also will be Wichita State’s eighth game at INTRUST Bank Arena, a downtown facility that will host first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games in 2018.The Shockers are 6-1 at the arena.