In the last game of the 2010-2011 season, Greg Marshall's Shockers fell to Cuonzo Martin's Missouri State Bears, a game that decided the regular season Missouri Valley Conference Champion. Two seasons later, Cuonzo Martin's Tenneesse team handed WSU their first loss of the season, dropping them to 9-1.
This time, the Shockers made sure they took down the enemy, bringing WSU to the best start in school history at 10-0.
The #12 Shockers (and #1 in the Mid-Major Madness Power 15) were favored from the beginning, but the first win of the season against a BCS school is an important marker of the season, adding all the more credibility to their national profile as a consistent contender.
The game started with a flurry of points from WSU as they seemed to be able to hit anything they threw at the basket. As expected, though, the game quickly locked into a defensive battle that is characteristic for both teams. Tennessee put the clamp on the free shooting Shockers and battled back to take a one point lead at halftime. Unofortunately, the "Shockers start slow" narrative is likely to continue as they have trailed at halftime in half of their games, the close score was because of a hard fought contest, not a poorly played game.
A more accurate statement for the game may be that Tekele Cotton started slow. Cotton really didn't do much on offense for the first half, but exploded for 19 points the the second half, going 4-11 from the field and 9 for 11 at the line. However, the game ball should go to backup forward Darius Carter who seemed everywhere on the defensive boards. Carter finished with a double-double with 11 points and a spectacular 14 rebounds.
The final score of 70-61 isn't indicative of the back and forth feel of the entire game, but that may be because of Tennessee's Jordan McRae. Every other Volunteer seemed overwhelmed by Wichita State's defense at one point or another, whereas McRae put up 26 points and seemed able to score from anywhere on the court. McRae's offense managed to lead the Vols to a number of runs, but the one man show wasn't quite enough to win it.
Up next for the Shockers is an Alabama team that has struggled out of the gate to a 4-4 record.