On Saturday night, Utah State faces its most difficult challenge of the season.
More difficult than BYU. More difficult than Denver.
As teams go, Wichita State is one of the best that not many have heard about. The Shockers are deep, long and athletic. They have good shooters, and they have a marquee win over UNLV you know, the same team that pulled an upset over North Carolina at the end of last month.
Suffice it to say, this is a big step for the Aggies.
"They're a good team," shooting guard Preston Medlin said. "They have Top 25-type talent. They have a good mindset. They play hard, and they play physical. It's going to be a very good challenge for us."
USU isn't entering this under the best conditions. On Friday, Stew Morrill announced that freshman forward Steven Thornton has left the team and will transfer to a school closer to his home in California. That's the second player defection the Aggies have had to deal with this season, as Antonio Bumpus left the team a few days before the win over BYU.
Thornton was one of the most athletic players on the team, and he started the BYU game. He played 14 minutes a game and averaged almost three points per game.
The last time the two teams played, in 2010, Utah State defeated the Shockers in a Bracketbuster game. This is the return matchup. And even though the Aggies are struggling in the early part of the season, USU thinks this is a game it can compete in and even win if it plays well.
"We have to be aggressive," Medlin said. "We have to come out and take good shots. That will help the team win."
Utah State at Wichita State
P At Charles Koch Arena, Wichita
Tipoff • 6 p.m. MST
TV • None
Radio • 97.5 FM
Records • Wichita State 6-2, Utah State 4-4
Series record • Utah State leads 6-4
Last meeting • Utah State, 68-58 (Feb. 20, 2010)
About the Aggies • Utah State is 4-4 on the season after defeating Utah Valley at home, 63-54, Tuesday. … Utah State began the year with a 69-62 home win against Brigham Young, followed by a 73-63 road loss at Weber State, a 65-62 home win against Southern Utah, a 58-55 overtime road loss at Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, a 75-62 road win at Idaho State, a 67-54 home loss to Denver, and a 65-57 road loss at Pacific. … USU is led by senior guard Brockeith Pane, who is averaging 12.6 points and 3.3 assists per game, and is shooting 36.2 percent from the field, 23.8 percent from 3-point range and 80.0 percent at the free-throw line.
About the Shockers • Wichita State is 6-2 on the season following a 77-67 road win at Tulsa on Wednesday. … The Shockers, who are 4-0 at home this year, are led by senior guard Toure Murry, who is averaging 13.8 points and 4.8 rebounds, while shooting 45.2 percent from the field, 25.0 percent from 3-point range and 78.4 percent at the free-throw line. … Senior guard Joe Ragland is averaging 11.8 points, senior center Garret Stutz is averaging 10.9 points and 7.0 rebounds, and senior guard David Kyles is averaging 9.9 points per game.