Wichita State visited Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City on Saturday in need of a signature road win. They got just that.
The Shockers battled Oklahoma to the wire and came away with a 76-73 victory.
After sloppy offense and passive defense in the first half, the Shockers “played angry” in the second half, forcing turnovers and blocking shots on their way to their ninth win of the season, and second victory over a “power 5” team.
How did the Shockers pull off the road win?
The emergence of Daishon Smith
Daishon Smith entered Saturday’s game averaging 6.4 points and 2.8 assists per contest. Smith did not score in the first half of Saturday’s game, but scored 13 second half points and handed out six assists. His thunderous dunk late in the half changed momentum and the game.
Wichita State prides itself on its defensive prowess and tenacity. The Shockers seemingly dive on more loose balls than any team in the nation. Led by junior center Shaquille Morris’ five blocked shots, the Shockers (9-2) held Oklahoma (6-3) without a field goal for 6:09 of the second half.
Zach Brown’s contributions
Zach Brown came off the bench to lead the team with 17 points, including two tide-changing threes to start the second half. His two athletic blocked shots came at crucial times. Brown and Morris are the two players with the most Shocker history and understanding of WSU basketball.
Taking care of the ball
Gregg Marshall’s team had an uncharacteristic first half, allowing 39 points, turning the ball over nine times and coming up with only one steal. Things changed in the second half. The Shocker had just four turnovers, picked up three steals and turned the Sooners over ten times in the pivotal second frame.
What does it mean?
By defeating a Big 12 team (131 RPI), the Shockers push their resume one step further. As the Sooners’ countinue to build their RPI in conference play, this win will grow in importance. By winning a road game against a power five team, the Shockers reinforce the idea that they belong on the national stage.
The Shockers are off until next Saturday when they host Oklahoma State. These back-to-back games with the Oklahoma powerhouses not only give the Shockers opportunities to build a resume this year, but to strengthen their recruiting ties in the Sooner state.