Western Carolina (1-1) at Wichita State (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 15, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Charles Koch Arena (10,506) -- Wichita, Kansas. Television: None. Home Record: Western Carolina 1-0, Wichita State 1-0. Away Record: Western Carolina 0-1, Wichita State 1-0. Neutral Record: Western Carolina 0-0, Wichita State 0-0. Conference Record: Western Carolina 0-0, Wichita State 0-0. Series Record: Wichita State leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: As part of the 2012 Cancun Challenge the Western Carolina Catamounts will travel to Charles Koch Arena to do battle with the Wichita State Shockers on Thursday night.
Through two games, Western Carolina is 1-1 this season. The Catamounts began the year on the road against UNC Asheville and came away with a 71-61 defeat. After that loss the Catamounts returned home and beat up on Mars Hill (95-68) of the South Atlantic Conference. Western Carolina was just 4-12 on the road last season but a competitive 9-8 in non-conference games. Next up for the Catamounts is a matchup with Western Kentucky before heading to Cancun, Mexico for the remainder of this event.
Wichita State is coming off an impressive, albeit difficult victory against VCU on Tuesday night. With Malcolm Armstead's jumper with four seconds left in regulation, the Shockers were able to steal a 53-51 win over the Rams. With the triumph Wichita State is 2-0 on the early season and set to face Howard this weekend before traveling to Cancun.
It has been more than 10 years since the first and only matchup between these squads. In that 2001 meeting, Wichita State rolled to a 102-73 victory, also at Charles Koch Arena.
Despite turning the ball over 23 times against Mars Hill, Western Carolina was able to coast to a victory due to its efficient scoring. The Catamounts shot a sizzling 60.7 percent from the floor in the game.
Lead returning scorer Trey Sumler has picked up right where he left off a season ago. Through two games Sumler is scoring at a team-leading 16.0 point- per-game clip, while also dishing out 5.5 assists per contest. Sumler is also creating chaos on the defensive end by getting into passing lanes, with 2.5 steals per contest. The double-figure scoring has not been limited to Sumler. Tawaski King (13.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg) has anchored the team on the inside, while Tom Tankelewicz (13.0 ppg) and Brandon Boggs (11.0 ppg) have each been welcome and productive contributors early on.
It was a nip and tuck affair between Wichita State and VCU on Tuesday night. Neither team led by more than five points in a game that featured nine ties and 10 lead changes. Neither team was very effective offensively with Wichita State shooting 35.1 percent from the floor to 34.7 percent for VCU.
Armstead's game-winning jump shot capped off a stellar game across the board for the senior guard. Armstead finished with 11 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals. The strong play in distribution was expected from Armstead, but the 11 points was the first double-figure effort from the senior since a 14-point outburst in 2011, while he was still playing for Oregon. Armstead sat out last season per transfer rules. Carl Hall has been an tremendous force in the paint for the Shockers so far and should continue to be going forward. He has posted a double-double in each game this season including his 12-point, 11-rebound effort against VCU. Ron Baker (13.5 ppg) is another starter in double figures, while Clanton Early (11.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) has added offense and rebounding off the bench.
Wichita State will have the edge in this matchup. The Shockers were almost impossible to beat at home last season (14-1) and have a roster that is filled with solid contributors.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wichita State 75, Western Carolina 59
11/15 10:36:07 ET