Short-handed Wichita State hosts deep Missouri squad

·2 min read

The Wichita State Shockers will dress just eight players again Sunday afternoon when they host the Missouri Tigers.

Due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing, the Shockers (1-0) will be missing Ricky Council, Jaden Seymour, Craig Porter, Josaphat Bilau and Chaunce Jenkins against the Tigers (2-0).

Those five scholarship players and three walk-ons were absent as the Shockers rallied past Oral Roberts 85-80 at home Wednesday in Wichita, Kan.

"It felt good getting the win," Shockers interim coach Isaac Brown said. "I'm so glad those guys stayed together and battled. We hit some adversity in that game. That team was shooting the ball really well. We got down nine, but our leadership showed up and those guys stayed together and we defended late and got a couple of stops and were able to win the game."

Wichita State's starting lineup remained intact against the Golden Eagles, with sophomore guard Tyson Etienne (26 points) and Alterique Gilbert (18) leading the charge.

"I know we've got to play a lot better because it's about to get a lot tougher," Brown said. "So my mind is on cleaning up our mistakes. We've got to rebound better. We've got to take better shots. We've got to execute better. We've got to guard better."

The Shockers catch the Tigers at full strength and coming off their 83-75 upset over No. 21 Oregon on Wednesday in Omaha, Neb. Earlier Missouri routed Oral Roberts 91-64 at home to open the season.

The Tigers feature a veteran backcourt with junior Xavier Pinson (19.5 points per game) and seniors Mark Smith (16.5) and Dru Smith (13.5 points, 5.0 assists, 3.5 steals).

Javon Pickett is averaging 12.0 points off the bench and big man Jeremiah Tilmon (9.5 points, 10.5 rebounds) is also off to a strong start.

"Just to come back this year and really start off right and start off solid, it's everything," Pinson said after the Oregon upset. "Everybody did everything they could. Everybody tried to get one extra rebound, one extra assist, one extra bucket if possible, one extra charge."

Missouri is pushing its offensive pace this season while exploiting its depth. The Tigers used 11 players in their first two games and also have Ed Chang coming back from a non-COVID illness.

After turning the ball over 17 times against Oral Roberts, the Tigers committed just seven turnovers against Oregon despite facing a full-court trapping press.

"No disrespect to Oral Roberts, but I didn't think there was anything they did to force 17 turnovers," Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said. "That's where you have to be better, from start to finish of the basketball game, maturity as an individual player then as a team, because it seems like we turn them over early and it gets contagious."

--Field Level Media