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2015 NCAA Tournament recap: Wichita State takes care of Kansas Jayhawks to return to Sweet 16

Wichita State and Kansas finally met in the matchup that everyone wanted to see. The Shockers got the better of the deal, and are headed back to the Sweet 16.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

In the last three years, the country has come to learn that there is little that Wichita State can't do on the basketball court.

From a Final Four, to a 35-1 run, to winning the Missouri Valley again at 17-1, the Shockers have given every reason to believe that they can accomplish anything that they put their mind to. The only thing stopping them might be an errant shot or two on any given day.

Take this latest incarnation, which everyone, including us, has criticized for having no interior depth, a foul-prone Darius Carter in the middle, and a bench whose names you never know because they spend no time on the floor because they are also in foul trouble.

You wouldn't think that team could beat Kansas.

And yet, that awesome, flawed Wichita State team did just that Sunday afternoon. The Shockers downed their Sunflower State rival, 78-65 to advance back to the Sweet 16.

Believe what you will about the seeding conspiracies, how this matchup was somehow concocted in a back room by the NCAA Tournament committee just so these two teams would finally take the floor together. Believe how that decision led to Wichita State being handed a 7-seed when they more likely deserved something better.

Wichita State chose to put that out of their mind. They have taken on every challenge over the last couple of seasons no matter what the name on the other jersey was.

But here is the thing about Wichita State that you may not have noticed: they always get a contribution from someone you would least expect.

In the last week, whenever we were asked who would be the player everyone needed to keep an eye on, it was Tekele Cotton for his defense. You don't expect Cotton to add 19 points to his defense. That just doesn't happen.

And then there is the player that you never expect to do anything coming up big. Evan Wessel has the ability to frustrate both fans and opponents alike. Last season, when Wichita State didn't seem to have a weak point, Wessel took most of the blame for just taking up space on the court. You could say "much of what he does doesn't show up in the stat sheet," because you want to have something nice to say about Wessel.

If Wessel had played in his time with the Shockers like he played Sunday, there would be no criticism. This Wessel is the one we only saw glimpses of in fits and starts.

You would never imagine him putting up 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting from 3-point range, and pulling in nine rebounds. He did a job against former high school teammate Perry Ellis, slowing down an already hobbled, taller player, one that should have had his way with Wichita State's interior.

Wessel wouldn't allow that. And while Ellis still scored 17 points, nine from the free throw line, you can thank Wessel for making sure it wasn't 25.

When the game went to halftime, Gregg Marshall had a litany of reason for why the Shockers weren't playing at their best. Despite all that, Wichita State lead by three, and had just gone on a 14-2 run to take the lead.

They would go on another 13-4 run to start the second half, and essentially end it right there.

If we have learned one thing about Wichita State, at some point they put that killer instinct into third gear, and if you aren't ready for it, it will eat you alive.

Kansas wasn't ready; they got too comfortable leading by eight with five minutes left in the first half. Ten minutes later, they were behind by 11 points, and there was no slowing the Shockers down.

Notre Dame, Maryland and Kentucky, had better have been paying attention. They have a team with a full head of steam charging into Cleveland.

They crossed off the second item on their agenda Sunday night, and they certainly have some unfinished business to take care of next up on the list.