MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Wichita State takes on the defending champion Cincinnati Bearcats in semifinal action at the Air Force Reserve American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship. Tip is scheduled for just after 4 p.m. CT on Saturday.
The winner moves on to Sunday’s championship game against either host Memphis or regular season champion Houston (2:15 p.m., ESPN).
Shocker Radio streaming will be unavailable in the postseason, but fans outside of the Wichita area can listen to national coverage of all 11 tournament games from Learfield IMG College on Sirius 134/XM channel 202 and via TuneIn on the College Sports Now channel.
For behind-the-scenes coverage of the Shockers, follow @GoShockersMBB on twitter and Instagram. Join the conversation by using the hashtag, #watchus.
- Gregg Marshall is in search of his 500th career win. He has a 499-194 (.720) record in 21 seasons. He’s 305-111 in 12 seasons on the Wichita State bench (.733).
- A win would also boost the Shockers to the 20-win mark for the tenth-consecutive year and for the 21st time in school history.
- WSU is playing in a conference semifinal for the tenth-consecutive year. Last year, the Shockers fell to No. 3 seed Houston. Marshall will coach a semifinal game for the 18th time in 21 years and is looking to advance to his 12th title game.
- UC swept the regular season series from the Shockers, winning 66-55 in Wichita (Jan. 19) and a month later in Cincinnati (Feb. 17), 72-62. Marshall has never been beaten three times in the same year by the same opponent.
- The Bearcats are ranked No. 24 in the latest AP Poll. WSU is 14-19 against AP Top-25 opponents under Marshall (0-1 in ’18-19, having lost at No. 17 Houston). The Shockers claimed two top-25 wins last season, including a 62-61 victory at No. 5 Cincinnati (Feb. 18, 2018) that snapped the Bearcats’ 39-game home winning streak.
- The Shockers are coming off of an 80-74 win over Temple in Friday’s quarterfinals. Markis McDuffie scored a career-high 34 points on 9-of-19 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds. He was 4-of-9 from distance and 12-of-13 at the foul line. McDuffie and Dexter Dennis (19 pts, 12 reb) both finished with double-doubles.
- WSU entered 2018-19 as one of the nation’s least-experienced units (10 newcomers; just 11.2% of minutes returning). McDuffie is the only Shocker who saw time in last year’s tourney.
- Picked eighth, the rebuilding Shockers opened conference play at 1-6 but have been one of The American’s hottest teams ever since, winning 11 of their last 13 games. WSU’s six-game winning streak is a season-high and the league’s longest active.
- While they’ll likely need two more wins in the next two days to extend their string of seven-straight NCAA bids, a strong showing in Memphis would strengthen the youthful Shockers’ case for an NIT berth. WSU has appeared in 10-straight postseasons.
- Heading into the week, the Shockers had played a league-best 17 Quadrant I or II games, ahead of UConn (16) and Houston (16).
- A second team all-conference pick, McDuffie ranks among the league leaders in scoring (18.3), free throw pct. (.829) and three-pointers (2.25). He has 1,438 career points — one point behind Fred VanVleet for 15th on WSU’s all-time scoring list.
- Guard Dexter Dennis (8.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 39.8% 3pt) was named to The American’s all-freshman team.
- Gregg Marshall is 37-11 all-time in conference tournament games with nine titles (18-9 at WSU, 4 titles).
- WSU is 3-1 all-time in American Tournament games.
- With WSU’s two victories this week, American Tournament No. 6 seeds are 10-5 over the last six years, including 5-1 in the quarterfinal round. Last year Houston became the first No. 3 seed to beat a No. 6.
- WSU is trying to become the third No. 6 seed to make the tournament final. UConn (2015) and Memphis (2016) made the championship game in back-to-back years but neither won it.
- Thursday’s win was WSU’s first ever as a No. 6 seed in a conference tournament. The Shockers landed the No. 6 on five occasions in the MVC Tournament and went 0-5.
AMERICAN TOURNAMENT RECORD WATCH
- Markis McDuffie hit a career-high 12 free throws (on 13 attempts), one night after knocking down 11 of them.
- McDuffie’s 23 free throws in two games is a new single-tournament record, breaking the old mark of 21 set by SMU’s Markus Kennedy over three games in the 2015 American Championship.
- Dexter Dennis’ 12 rebounds tied the tournament’s single-game freshman mark set previously by UCF’s Tacko Fall (2016), UConn’s Daniel Hamilton (2015) and Memphis’ Dedric Lawson (2016).
- WSU tied the tournament’s single-game free throw percentage record, hitting 22-of-24 (.917). McDuffie (12/13) and Dennis (6/7) teamed for 20 of the 24 tries.
OTHER TEMPLE LEFTOVERS
- McDuffie (34 pts, 12 reb) and Dennis (19 pts, 12 reb) are the first Shocker teammates to record double-doubles in the same conference tournament game since Cliff Levingston (12 pts, 10 reb) and Tony Martin (16 pts, 17 reb) in a 1981 MVC Tournament win over Drake.
- McDuffie’s double-double was his first of the year and the second of his Shocker career. His 12 rebounds were a season-highm, and his seven offensive boards were a new career-best.
- Dennis notched his second point-rebound double-double of the year. He’s the first Shocker freshman since Jamar Howard (2001-02) to record two double-doubles in the same season.
- Dennis’ 19 points matched his career-high from the Nov. 18 Alabama game at the Charleston Classic.
- Temple’s Ernest Aflakpui set new tournament records with 19 rebounds and 10 offensive boards.
- The Shockers avenged a Jan. 6 home loss to Temple in which they led by 13 at halftime and by 11 with just over 3:00 to play. This time around, a more mature WSU team built a lead late and successfully defended it. The Shockers used an 11-0 run to take a nine-point edge with just over 8:00 remaining. Temple rallied to within two points with just under 2:00 to play, but Samajae Haynes-Jones drove for a layup, and the Shockers made enough plays down the stretch to prevail.
- Dennis has made at least one three-point field goal in 12 straight games.
- WSU is 3-5 all-time against Temple; 3-2 AAC Era.
- The Shockers shot 39.1% from the field. It was the 16th time in 32 games that they’ve hit less than 40%. They’re a respectable 8-8 in those games.
- WSU held its opponent to 40%-or-less for the 10th time in its last 12 outings. Foes are shooting a combined .394 in that span.
THE SERIES WITH CINCINNATI
- This is series game No. 34. Cincinnati leads 21-12.
- The Bearcats won both meetings this year during the regular season — 66-55 in Wichita (Jan. 19) and 72-62 in Cincinnati (Feb. 17).
- Gregg Marshall is 1-3 against both Cincinnati and its head coach, Mick Cronin. All three games have come over the last two seasons.
- The teams split two epic games last year. On Feb. 18, 2018, then-No. 19 WSU ended No. 5 Cincinnati’s nation-best 39-game home winning streak (76-72). Two weeks later, in the regular season finale, the tenth-ranked Bearcats returned the favor with a 62-61 win at Charles Koch Arena that denied the 11th-ranked Shockers a share of the conference crown.
- One or both teams have been nationally-ranked for 22 of the 34 meetings all-time.
A SHOCKER WIN WOULD…
… move them into Sunday’s championship game vs. either top seed Houston or No. 5 seed Memphis (2:15 p.m. CT, ESPN).
… give Gregg Marshall his 500th career win (500-194, .720 in 21 seasons).
… give them 20-wins for the 10th-straight year and for the 21st time in school history.
… give Marshall 20-wins for the 16th time in his 21 seasons as a head coach.
… make them 20-13 with wins in 12 of their last 14.
… give them a season-high seven-game win streak.
… make WSU 4-1 all-time in AAC Tournament games.
… avenge two regular season losses to Cincinnati.
… make Marshall 2-3 against UC and Mick Cronin.
… narrow UC’s all-time series lead to 21-13.
… be the 12th time in 21 seasons that Marshall has coached in the finals of a conference tourney. He’s 9-2 in championship games (2-2 at WSU).
A SHOCKER LOSS WOULD…
… eliminate them from the tournament.
… drop their record to 19-14.
… snap a six-game winning streak.
… be just their third loss since Jan. 27.
… make them 0-3 against Cincinnati this year and 1-4 in since joining The American.
… be the first time ever that Marshall has lost three games to same opponent in a single season.
… give UC a 22-12 all-time series lead.
… be less good than a win.