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Game Preview: Wichita State Shockers vs. Charleston Southern Buccaneers

Wichita State begins its quest to return to the NCAA Tournament with a rebuilding Charleston Southern squad.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Charleston Southern Buccaneers at Wichita State Shockers

When: Nov. 13, 8 p.m. Eastern
Where: Charles Koch Arena
Watch: ESPN3, COX2022 HD (Wichita)
Last Time They Met: Wichita State 65, Charleston Southern 53, Dec. 20, 2012.
Series: Wichita State leads 2-0
Players to Watch (Wichita State): Fred Van Vleet, Ron Baker, Anton Grady
Players to Watch (Charleston Southern): Aaron Wheeler, Demetrius Pollard, Javis Howard

Game Preview:

While Wichita State has its sights on another deep run in the NCAA Tournament this season, Charleston Southern enters the year in a solid rebuilding mode. Picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big South, the Bucs lost much of the firepower that drove them over the past several season.

Gone is star guard Saah Nimley, who scored 21.4 points per game last season, and led Charleston Southern in almost every major category. It wasn't only Nimley that left though as Barclay Radebaugh's team lost five seniors in total who all played major minutes for the Bucs.

Instead, Charleston Southern will turn to Aaron Wheeler to lead the team along with a swarm of transfer who will have to fill some pretty big shoes.

That will be difficult against the Shockers who will again have Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet leading the nation's best backcourt.

The struggle for the Buccaneers will really be how their offense will transform without the senior of last season. Charleston Southern was No. 7 in the country in terms of the percentage of shots taken behind the 3-point line. The players returning went just 22-for-111 behind the arc, but the team should get a boost from the addition of Northeastern transfer Demetrius Pollard, who shot 33 percent from three two seasons ago. Charleston Southern also adds N.C. State transfer Patrick Wallace, who is a threat from deep.

The big question will be if they can get free against Wichita State, who despite losing Tekele Cotton to graduation, still should be formidable on the defensive end.

Slowing down the Shockers offense will also be a tough task for the Bucs. Wheeler is a good defender, but the Big South doesn't normally feature skill players like Baker and Van Vleet. Inside, the Wichita State addition Anton Grady will be tough to handle, and sophomores Wesley Johnson and Javis Howard should have their hands full trying to slow him down.

Background and History:

Cleanthony Early scored 20 points in one of his best shooting games as a Shocker to help lead Wichita State past Charleston Southern, 65-53 in only the second meeting between the two teams. Wichita State got 11 points from Nick Wiggins off the bench, including two 3-pointers. Saah Nimley scored 21 points for the Bucs, and went 4-for-11 from three, but the rest of the team was just 3-for-17 from deep in the loss. The win moved Wichita State to 10-1 on the year on their way to a Final Four run.

In the only other meeting of the two teams, the Shockers trounced the Bucs on the opening night of the 2011-12 season, 85-57. Charleston Southern shot just 29 percent from the floor against the Shockers defense, and trailed 45-17 at halftime. Five players scored in double figures for Wichita State, led by David Kyles with 19.

Matchup to watch

This game certainly looks to be a mismatch just based on the amount of firepower that Wichita State returns this year, and with Charleston Southern having to piece together a new lineup. What should be most telling is what the bench of the Shockers can do against the Bucs when given the chance. This will be the opportunity for all of the frontcourt depth that Gregg Marshall has to finally show who will be the player that steps up to be that key sixth man coming off the bench. They have the luxury of going against a foul-prone interior and the Shockers should have the edge on the glass.

Who wins

Expect a very fast tempo from the start by Wichita State as they look to pressure Charleston Southern and really get out to a comfortable lead so that they can rotate some of that depth into the game. With the strong defense of Baker and Van Vleet, the Shockers should have no trouble causing turnovers and getting into transition early before settling in. In the end this one is just too much for Charleston Southern.

Wichita State 80, Charleston Southern 54