Cinci Wichita CBB

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Wichita State

College Basketball



The AAC knew what it was doing when setting the Schedule. Wichita State and Cincinnati meet for the regular season title with the Bearcats having a chance to win it outright. The problem is that their flaws were shown in recent Games, namely the home loss against this Shockers team. Cincinnati is still a squad that thrives defensively and can struggle offensively at any moment against a good defense.

In the first meeting, Cincy simply didn’t get enough scoring in a 76-72 loss and was behind for most of the Game. The glaring stat is that it went just 7-of-23 from behind the arc and took only six more two pointers than threes. For a team that isn’t known for shooting, that’s not a great strategy. While the Shockers rank near the bottom of the Conference in three-point defense, that doesn’t mean you should jack up threes and hope they fall.

Any way you look at it, this is going to be a fun Game. The Wichita State offense and Cincinnati defense lead the Conference in almost every category. The Shockers turned the ball over 15 times in that first meeting, yet still produced 1.15 points per possession, which isn’t a good sign for Cincy. They were efficient from long range at 8-of-18 and got enough offensive boards (nine) to win the Game. Cincy may rate well offensively, but it’s the defense that needs to pick up the slack and lead the way if it wants to win this Game.

The Bearcats kind of met their match in that first matchup and Wichita State showed it was better than its defensive ranking and also showed it had just as good of depth as Cincinnati. In fact, while Cincy played more guys, Wichita actually had one more players reach double-digit minutes.

Emotions will be high in this Game, which should make it even more fun. Guys like Shaq Morris and Gary Clark are playing in their last regular season Games. Morris was huge in that first meeting even if the numbers don’t show it. He kept Clark and Kyle Washington in check and that was all that was needed. Jacob Evans and Jarron Cumberland combined to go 4-of-14 from distance, while LAndry Shamet and Austin Reaves were much more effective, as they have been all season both shooting better than 44 percent. It can be argued that Shamet is the best player in this Game after scoring 19 in the previous meeting. Clark has had a great career and Evans can be a playmaker at times, but Shamet really showed his stuff in the first matchup.

It’s unlikely Cincy will shoot as much from outside because that probably won’t work again. The Bearcats will be smart to use Clark and Washington as much as possible down low and hope Morris gets into foul trouble. If they can’t win down low, it’s hard to see them winning this Game because Shamet has the edge on the perimeter. Justin Jenifer and Cane Broome give up a lot of size in the backcOurt and that was an issue and should be again. Guys like Evans, Cumberland and Broome have to attack as much as possible because that’s what this team does best. Create off the dribble and get the ball to Clark.

The Shockers are playing well, although aren’t invincible at home, already losing to SMU and beating teams like Temple and Tulane by single digits. Of course, this is the final Game of the regular season with a share of the Conference title on the line so no one will be taking it easy. The Shockers get the edge with Shamet at home, but if the Bearcats play a better team Game, they’ll have a chance.

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