All losses sting to an extent. But for Wichita State coach Isaac Brown and his team, their 65-59 setback to Kansas State last Sunday carried just a bit more pain than others.
“It was my first time involved in a rivalry game,” he said. “We didn’t play well. On offense, we just weren’t disciplined. We didn’t do a good job, we turned it over too much, we didn’t go inside enough, and we just have to learn from it.”
The Shockers will try to bounce back on Saturday night when they host Norfolk State in the first game of a four-game homestand.
Wichita State (6-2) hasn’t exactly disgraced itself in the season’s first quarter. Its only other loss was to unbeaten Arizona in overtime at a Las Vegas tournament during Thanksgiving weekend. And it owns road wins over Missouri and Oklahoma State.
But the Shockers have room to improve, mostly on offense. They are making just 39.4 percent from the field, which ranks 323rd in Division I, and are scoring only 65.1 points, which is 290th. Leading scorer Tyson Etienne is averaging 15.6 points but connecting on just 32.1 percent from the field.
“We have to push the ball in transition and try to get easy ones,” Brown said.
Meanwhile, Norfolk State (9-2) is also coming into this one off a close loss. The Spartans fell 58-57 on Dec. 4 at Tidewater-area rival Hampton as Russell Dean hit an off-balance 30-footer at the buzzer.
The result snapped a four-game winning streak for Norfolk State, whose other loss was to Xavier 88-48 on Nov. 21. The Spartans boast a balanced attack with four players averaging in double figures. Joe Bryant leads the way at 14.5 points, sinking an impressive 44 of 47 at the foul line.
Norfolk State won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title last March, defeating Appalachian State in a play-in game at the NCAA Tournament before being eliminated by Gonzaga.
“They know how to win,” Brown said. “They have a lot of veteran guys coming back. It’ll be a tough task.”
–Field Level Media