Expect a very physical game tonight. Wichita State committed 31 fouls last night against DePaul, which had 27.
“Wichita State is a Big Ten team physically, and they also play that way,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “Very physical team and they fouled so much in the DePaul game. I’ve seen very few teams foul like that way, way early in the game, double bonus for DePaul, double bonus in the second half. So we have to be ready for that.”
Eight Shockers had at least three fouls, while four had four or more. Williams, who led Wichita State in scoring, fouled out.
Iowa’s game against Western Kentucky was plenty physical, too. The teams combined for 40 fouls and there were plenty more that should have been called.
“It was (physical), and (tonight) is going to be even crazier, from what I hear about Wichita State,” Iowa’s Melsahn Basabe said. “They’re just the same, but even bigger. Wichita State is a really good team. I’ve known about them as just a fan before I knew we were going to play them. So we’ve got to be ready.”
Williams and Malcolm Armstead (read about him here) led the way with 18 and 17 points respectively, for Wichita State. After winning the Missouri Valley Conference last year, the Shockers have Iowa’s full attention.
“I know that’s a really good team,” Basabe said. “They’re just as good as a Big Ten team. They’re an equivalent to Creighton, and they’ve got really good guard play. Creighton is a big-man school, but Wichita State goes deeper than Creighton with their guards, from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard. This is a really good team. I’m fully aware of that, so they’re not going to sneak up on us.”
“They’ve been solid, one of the better teams in the Missouri Valley,” Iowa guard Eric May said. “They’ve been to the NCAA tournament multiple times, and they’re experienced. We’ve got to focus.”
Iowa and Wichita State have engaged in several meaningful games over the years. The most important was on March 15, 1981.
The Hawkeyes led Wichita State 36-25 at halftime of the second round of the NCAA Tournament. But Wichita State rallied to outscored Iowa 35-20 in the second half to beat the Hawkeyes 60-56. Iowa had the ball with 17 seconds left and the score tied 56-56. Iowa Coach Lute Olson then called a timeout, which the Hawkeyes didn’t have. The Shockers converted and scored the game’s final four points. It cost Iowa the game and its season.
Iowa and Wichita State played three years ago at the consolation games of the CBE Classic at Kansas City’s Sprint Center. The Shockers whacked the Hawkeyes 74-57 in a game that really wasn’t that close.
Only two players remain for both teams. Wichita State’s Demetric Williams scored five points in 13 minutes off the bench. May, who is Iowa’s only senior, scored nine points in 27 minutes.
That 2009 game has little to no relevance tonight, May said.
“That was a while ago,” May said. “I just know the way they play is disciplined. They’re a solid team. You always see them, they’re in the top 25, the NCAA tournament. They’re a really good team. We’re going to have to bring it.”
Both Iowa and Wichita State are 5-0 and share some commonalities. Wichita State Coach Gregg Marshall was strongly considered for the Iowa job after that season, but he opted to stay with the Shockers. Wichita State assistants Chris Jans and Greg Heiar either coached (Jans) or played (Heiar) at Kirkwood Community College.
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