No. 4 Wichita State ramps up defensive effort after slow start

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For the fourth-ranked Wichita State Shockers, Saturday’s game against Evansville represented a stiffer test than some may have realized. Marty Simmons’ Purple Aces beat the Shockers twice last season, and despite the graduation of Colt Ryan (he scored 29 in the win at Wichita State) Evansville had another capable scoring guard in D.J. Balentine.

Balentine had it rolling early and so did his teammates, as Evansville made its first eight shots from the field and led by 15 points (29-14) with just under nine minutes remaining in the first half. The Purple Aces were finding their desired spots offensively, with Balentine scoring 13 of those 29 points, and Wichita State didn’t defend at the level we’ve come to expect from them either.

That changed however, with Gregg Marshall’s Shockers ramping up the defensive intensity and forcing multiple turnovers to turn that 15-point deficit into a six-point lead at the intermission. And in the second half Wichita State kept its foot on the gas, leading by as many as 19 points before winning 81-67. The Shockers were balanced offensively, with Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet scoring 14 points apiece and Cleanthony Early (13 points) and Tekele Cotton (12) reaching double figures as well.

But the story from this one was Wichita State’s defense, with the Shockers displaying both ends of the spectrum on Saturday afternoon. When they’re struggling defensively, and this would be the case with many teams across the country, Wichita State looks vulnerable. But when they’re at their best defensively, attacking teams and “playing angry,” scoring points on Wichita State becomes an incredibly difficult task. After their hot start Evansville would finish the first half with ten turnovers, and Wichita State scored nine points off of those mistakes.

Now Wichita State hits the road for arguably their two toughest Missouri Valley Conference games, as they’ll face Indiana State and Northern Iowa over the next week. And if Wichita State is to take care of business they’re going to need to be consistent defensively. Do that, and regardless of what outsiders may think of their schedule the Shockers have the potential to be a special team.

Henry Ellenson wins Marquette Madness dunk contest

Steve Wojciechowski
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Marquette freshman forward Henry Ellenson won the Marquette Madness slam dunk contest on Friday night with a between the legs dunk.

The 6-foot-10 Ellenson, the top recruit in Steve Wojciechowski’s freshmen class, defeated sophomore Sandy Cohen, fellow freshman Sacar Anim and Wally Ellenson, his older brother.

Ellenson joins the Golden Eagles as the No. 11 overall recruit in the Class of 2015.

Bill Self signs $10,000 check for KU student


Late Night in the Phog is typically a night to remember for Kansas fans. For Kansas student Jerrod Martin Castro, Friday night’s event is one he won’t forget.

Castro, a sophomore, was selected as a contestant for a $10,000 giveaway. The only thing standing in the way of a big payday was a half-court shot. Brennan Bechard, the Kansas director of basketball operations, attempted the long-distance shot and hit nothing but net.

Kansas head coach Bill Self signed a $10,000 check on the spot.