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No. 4 Wichita State clears biggest hurdle to undefeated season

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We have officially reached the point in the year where No. 4 Wichita State running the table with an undefeated regular season now seems like a probability, not just a possibility.

The Shockers survived their toughest road test in conference play, going into Terre Haute and knocking off Indiana State, 65-58. The Sycamores got 15 of Cleanthony Early’s 19 points in the second half and Ron Baker shut down Manny Arop, holding him to three second half points after he went for 13 in the first 20 minutes.

The hero ended up being big man Chadrack Lufile, as he hit four free throws in the final 43 seconds to ice a game that the Shockers seemed intent on keeping interesting.

The Shockers play four of their last seven regular season games on the road, with the toughest test being a visit to Northern Iowa on Saturday. Get past Saturday unscathed, however, and the Shockers only have one game remaining against a team in the top four in the league with all of their road games coming against teams in the bottom four in the conference.

At this point, the biggest question isn’t whether or not Wichita State is good enough to go undefeated.

They are.

This team is better than the team that made the Final Four last season, and they’re playing in a Missouri Valley that would be considered down even if Creighton was still a member of the conference.

The issue is going to be whether or not they can handle the pressure. Every game they play is going to be the single biggest game of the year for their opponent. A win can define a team’s season, maybe even a player’s career. Each time they take the court, they are going to be the biggest story of the day in college hoops.

This team went to the Final Four last season. They should know what pressure feels like. They should be familiar with the crush that comes with the attention of the national media. They should be prepared to make this run.

Now all they have to do is win the games.

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.