No. 6 Wichita State looking for revenge vs. Oklahoma State

STILLWATER, Okla. — Wichita State may not talk about revenge, at least not openly. Still, when it comes to Saturday’s game at Oklahoma State, the No. 6-ranked Shockers at least want to play home wreckers.

That’s what the Cowboys did to them a year ago, rolling 93-76 in Wichita, becoming just the second nonc-onference team to beat the Shockers at home since 2008. The rout was Wichita State’s worst loss of the season.

Now the teams meet again in the series return game, this time at Oklahoma State’s Gallagher-Iba Arena, with both entering with a 7-1 record, although amid drastically different storylines.

The Shockers loom as a Final Four contender, returning almost everyone from a year ago. They lead the nation in rebounding margin and boast a scoring margin of plus-19.5. Wichita State lost to Notre Dame, but won at then-No. 16 Baylor and also owns quality wins over California and Marquette.

The Cowboys, who lost three starters and key scorers from a year ago, have faced but one ranked team, and it didn’t go well, as they lost 72-55 to Texas A&M in Brooklyn. Otherwise, Oklahoma State has pounded a list of overmatched teams. So, the Shockers represent an opportunity to make a statement of sorts.

“I don’t think about making a statement,” said Cowboys coach Mike Boynton. “We want to play good people. That’s part of my philosophy, to prepare for Big 12 competition. We certainly want to play good competition before you get there, so you’re not shocked the first time you play a team with a lot of experience, size and depth, like we’re going to play most of January, February and March.

“It’s a good opportunity, and no better chance to do that than against a team that’s in the top 10.”

For Wichita State, it’s a different chance, the first of back-to-back games against the Big 12 teams residing across the state’s southern border. After facing the Cowboys on Saturday, the Shockers get Oklahoma back at home a week later. Beating both would send them charging forward to their fast-approaching first run in the American Athletic Conference.

Wichita State is again playing to the profile of coach Gregg Marshall, winning with solid defense. The Shockers have let a few individual scorers go off — giving up 25 or more to five players so far — yet have slowed teams overall, with even the loss to No. 9 Notre Dame a tight 67-66 setback.

So, Marshall isn’t concerned with the individual opponent outbursts.

“Not as long as we have more points at the end of the game,” he told reporters this week. “It’s a team game. It’s not an individual game. I don’t care who scores the points, as long as we have more points than they do. That’s what’s important.”

The series dates back 83 years, with Oklahoma State leading 30-8 all-time. The Shockers are 2-15 in Stillwater and haven’t won there since 1957, although that represents a stretch of only four games.

Last year’s meeting may be more relevant, for both teams. Wichita State surely hasn’t forgotten the lopsided loss that halted its 42-game non-conference home winning streak. And the Cowboys remember what that game meant in delivering confidence going forward.

“It was really important,” said Oklahoma State point guard Brandon Averette. “It showed us how good we were. It boosted everybody’s confidence on the team.”