No. 11 Wichita State went on the road in Tuscaloosa to take on a quality Alabama program, led by senior point guard Travis Releford. In the first half Ron Baker, Cleanthony Early and Fred VanVleet all sat for much of the first half with foul trouble.
In the second half, Alabama took the lead on several occasions, but time and time again the Shockers quickly countered, and in the end they left with their 11th win in 11 games with a 72-67 victory over the Crimson Tide on Tuesday night.
Cleanthony Early, who started the game by taking the tip towards his own basket, elevating for a slam before realizing and correcting his mistake, led all scorers with 26 points off 11-of-11 from the line.
The Shockers entered this game knowing it was going to be a battle. The Crimson Tide have talent on that roster, their a quality SEC program. Alabama had 21 wins on Selection Sunday last March, but still did not get a bid in the NCAA tournament. What the Crimson Tide needed was a signature win, which they didn’t have. This season, Wichita State looked like a prime candidate for Alabama’s marquee non-conference win and the Tide threw everything it had at Gregg Marshall’s team, only to come up short.
For the Shockers this win continues to show its toughness as a team. The Shockers are sitting at a perfect 11-0 with road wins over both Alabama and Saint Louis, a neutral site win over BYU, in which they held the Cougars to a season-low 62 points, and last week knocked off another SEC program in Tennessee at home.
The Shockers were able to respond every time the Crimson Tide made a run at them, including the offensive rebound and layup by Darius Carter with under 40 seconds to go that put the lead to 69-66. Wichita State reduced the chance of a late-game comeback by connecting on 25-0f-27 from the line for the game.
Tuesday night was another good test for Wichita State, and once again the Shockers showed their talent, toughness and composure. It’s really hard to believe the Shockers will run the table, especially in the Missouri Valley Conference, but when the bracket is released on Selection Sunday, I wouldn’t want to see the Shockers on my side of it.