Here’s the deal. Creighton has unexpectedly lost two in a row, so the Shockers will be facing them for a second time this season coming off a loss. Wichita State suffered through its worst night of the season from the floor in a 68-61 loss at home. It’s hard to imagine that they’ll shoot 33% on 5-26 from 3-point range—but who knows. The Bluejays have to stop the bleeding, so their urgency will be peaked. How will that affect them? Either they play lights out, or they get their lights punched out. Having to win generally takes you to one of two ends of the spectrum—either it inspires you to greatness, or drains you to the point of exhaustion. Which way will it go today?
In the first meeting between the two the Shockers were beaten at the point and the post. Antione Young abused Joe Raglaund in getting to the basket. When he didn’t score at the rim, he went to the line where he hit 8-10 free throws. The Shockers did a great job on National Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott in the opener( 12 pts. on 4-9 fg) but they have to do a better guarding the ball against penetration. On the other side of the ball, Garrett Stutz suffered his worst game in MVC play against the Jays. The big fella got 4 of his five points on the first two plays of the game, then was silenced the rest of the way by Creighton’s Gregory Etchinique. How will he respond to the challenge today? The answer will go a long way in determining todays outcome. Etchinique is one of the few players in the Valley who can match Stutz man to man. Creighton hopesthat means not having to use the double team against the Shocker big man—so that they can continue to blanket Shocker shooters. The matchup in the post is key for both teams as this one unfolds.
When the Shockers have needed it this year, seniors have delivered. This is the big reason why I think WSU wins today in Omaha. In the first meeting Shocker seniors went 11 of 43 from the field. That doesn’t happen for a second straight time and WSU is sizing up another banner to hang in the Roundhouse.
Kansas State at Texas:
The next two weeks are likely to decide Kansas State’s entire season. The ‘Cats will be slight to big underdogs in each of their next four games. They start the stretch at Texas tomorrow, then continue at home with a ‘Big Monday’ matchup with KU, before heading to Baylor and Missouri. In case you’re counting, that’s three straight games against top ten opponents, with two of those on the road. That’s why tomorrow’s game at Texas looms so large. The Wildcats head to Austin at 6-5 in the Big 12, four straight losses would get them to 17-10, 6-9 and would seriously compromise their at-large chances.
The Wildcats claimed a 84-80 win over the Longhorns in a Manhattan on January 18th and won four of the last five meetings, including the last three. Head Coach Frank Martin was displeased by his team’s lack of energy in their win over Texas Tech last Tuesday, they won’t have that luxury tomorrow at Texas. The Longhorns have lost just twice at home, by one to Missouri and three to KU—and have been playing better of late. A very young team, Texas will be one of the beasts of the Big 12 over the next few years, but right now they’re on the wrong side of the bubble for the NCAA Tournament—expect a real urgency from the Longhorns tomorrow.