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RH: Conference Lead at Stake at Koch Arena

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The RoundHouse | 18-2-2021 10:03:00 AM

Paul Suellentrop Byline

Isaac Brown talked a lot about basketball fundamentals in breaking down Thursday’s game against No. 6 Houston (6:00 pm ESPN2).

The Shockers, of course, need to box better and limit turnover, guard Quentin Grimes, and eliminate quick shots that spoil the attack and put the defense at a disadvantage. Brown, the Wichita State interim coach, can focus on those items because of the way his team played in a 70-63 loss against Houston on Jan. 6.

“We need to get better pictures,” said Brown. “On the defensive side, I thought we weren’t defending at a high level like in the first half. They started taking shots. I felt like we turned it around. We’re not a team that turns it around.

What the Shockers did in that game allows Brown to think about reasonable steps to improve. His team participated. They led six points at half-time and started with ten in the second half. After Houston dominated to push the lead to 14, the Shockers cut the lead in half.

They were not run over like the previous teams did (twice in 2019-2020 and a loss of 73-59 in 2018). They corresponded to Houston’s brutality for much of the game. They didn’t agree long enough to survive a Cougars run and those are the moments Brown wants to fix.

“We have shown that we can compete with them,” GuardTyson Etiennesaid after losing seven points earlier this season. ‘That encourages me. We haven’t relapsed. ‘

Everyone knows this is a crucial game for the Shockers (12-4, 8-2 American Athletic Conference). Houston (17-2, 11-2) is Wichita State’s best chance for Wichita State’s regular season to boost its NCAA Tournament resume, not to mention taking first place in the conference standings . The Cougars are the highest ranked opponent to visit Koch Arena since No. 4 Kansas in 1992.

Like Cincinnati, this matchup has become a benchmark for the Shockers at the top of the American. The Cougars are the level the Shockers must reach.

Brown is committed not to worry about that. The Shockers need to focus on the next 40 minutes. In the first meeting, the Shockers went 8 for 26 out of three-point range. That led to two problems where they neglected the center’s score Morris Udeze and when they stopped scoring, their defense struggled.

Udeze went scoreless after two shots and Wichita State cannot afford a repeat. He needs the ball and he has to field the Houston defense. He can help by bouncing back and avoiding dirty problems.

“The ball never painted,” said Brown. So we have to do better when we don’t take pictures trying to throw it in to Morris and (Isaiah) Poor Bear-Chandler, try to control the basketball. We need to take better pictures. “

Houston is a dominant recovery team. It leads the nation by grabbing 40.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds, according to kenpom.com. In the first meeting, the Shockers competed on the backboards, hitting 14 offensive rebounds (one less than Houston) and 41 in total (Houston had 45).

After the January meeting, Brown estimated that the Shockers competed for 35 minutes. Houston is the kind of opponent that will likely force them to get closer to 40 minutes of smart, low turnover physical basketball to win.

“We have to take good pictures,” said Brown. “We have to try to get the ball in. You have to try to score in the transition. We have to defend at a high level and not give up second shots.”

Paul Suellentrophandles Wichita State Athletics and the American Athletic Conference for University Strategic Communications. Story suggestion? Contact him at [email protected]

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