Miles Simon called it on ESPN. I called it as well–Tekele Cotton had to play a smart game, not a fantastic game by any stretch for the Shockers to win on Saturday afternoon.
But before Fred VanVleet briefly injured himself on a breakaway dunk attempt with a minute to play (yes, he did return in the final seconds), the Shockers kept Northern Iowa’s key shooters at bay. Not only did Wichita State get revenge from their only conference loss at UNI on January 31, they repeated their Missouri Valley regular season championship with a convincing 74-60 win on Senior Day.
The other key was holding down All-American senior forward Seth Tuttle well before his scoring average. Averaging 29.9 ppg leading up to this critical contest, Tuttle only finished with 16 points on only 6 of 8 shooting in 35 minutes.
But the two seniors led the way for the Shockers:
Tekele Cotton and Darius Carter (only a two year player at WSU) each had 11 points, Cotton had 8 rebounds and Carter had six.
Other key players that delivered big time for Shocker Nation:
Ron Baker, in 35 minutes of play was the game’s leading scorer with 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting, 3 of 7 from three-point range.
Junior Evan Wessel also chipped in with 11 points, and the three bench players for Gregg Marshall’s team combined for–you guessed it, 11 points.
Although UNI’s bench scored 20, nobody outside of Seth Tuttle finished in double figures. The closest was the nine tabulated by junior guard Matt Bohannon.
Wichita State shot 50 percent from the field, compared to the 47.8% by Northern Iowa. The only other glaring stat was that UNI committed 10 turnovers, to the Shockers having only four.
I would not be at all surprised that two things happen in the next two weeks surrounding the Missouri Valley Conference:
- Both Northern Iowa and Wichita State meet in the final on March 8.
- Both schools end up getting at best a 4 seed, or at worst a 5 come Selection Sunday.
Both teams are definitely Sweet 16 worthy. But again, the tournament is all about matchups–it depends on what kind of draw comes up in two weeks.
But all is well in Shocker Nation, and deservedly so. Seniors Tekele Cotton and Ron Baker will definitely get some looks on by scouts in the NBA, but they were both truly special players in the annals of Wichita State Shockers basketball.
Hope to be back later tonight with a review of the BYU-Gonzaga game.