Wichita State had been waiting for this one.
It’s been more than two decades since the Shockers last had a shot at the state’s top dog, Kansas University. Jayhawks coach Bill Self famously has refused to schedule the Shockers, but the NCAA tournament selection committee did Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall—and college basketball fans everywhere—a solid by arranging this potential Round of 32 matchup. Once Kansas had dispatched New Mexico State and the Shockers had taken care of Indiana, the Sunflower State showdown, the first between these teams since 1993, was set. And Wichita State earned bragging right for the foreseeable future with its 78-65 win, the first time it has beaten KU since 1987.
Early on, it seemed that the Shockers would have been better off without this matchup, as they committed seven first-half turnovers to help Kansas open an eight-point lead. But an Evan Wessel three-pointer with 4:12 remaining in the first half began a 25-6 run for Wichita State, and by the time it ended with 15:50 to go in the game, the Shockers had a nine-point advantage. The Jayhawks didn’t get any closer than eight the rest of the game.
Unlike in its Round of 64 win against the Hoosiers on Friday, Wichita State had a balanced offensive attack against Kansas. Senior guard Tekele Cotton, who is best known as an elite defender (and is a two-time SI All-Glue team selection), led the way with 19 points. Junior guard Fred VanVleet added 17 points. Three other Shockers scored in double figures, including junior guard Ron Baker (12 points) who made 2 of 5 from three-point range as Wichita State made 10 of 20 from outside on the day.
Forward Perry Ellis and guard Devonte Graham each scored 17 points for Kansas and guard Frank Mason III had 16 before fouling out, but only six Jayhawks scored and they shot just 35% from the floor.
Wichita State would do well to enjoy this win. After a dominating performance like this one, it may take another favor from the selection committee to play the Jayhawks again.