Junior forward Markis McDuffie could make his season debut when No. 11 Wichita State puts its 24-game winning streak at Koch Arena on the line against Florida Gulf Coast on Friday. McDuffie, who led the Shockers in scoring (11.5 points per game) and rebounding (5.7) in 2016-17, has missed the first 11 games this season with a stress fracture in his left foot.
“I’m so motivated right now,” McDuffie, who was cleared to practice Tuesday, told The Wichita Eagle. “I just can’t wait. A lot of the fans have been bugging me on when I’m coming back and I can’t answer their questions right now. But it’s soon. Right now I’m just taking it one day at a time.” Wichita State took a while to bounce back from a 91-83 loss to No. 17 Oklahoma as it trailed Arkansas State by nine in the second half Tuesday before rallying for an 89-80 victory. The Eagles are coming off a 91-88 setback to Florida International on Tuesday - their fourth defeat in the last five games - and face their only game against a team from a major conference. FGCU has won 21 or more games for five straight seasons, beginning with its magical run to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2013 NCAA Tournament as a 15 seed - the same season Wichita State returned to prominence with a trip to the Final Four.
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ABOUT FGCU (7-6): Senior guard Brandon Goodwin leads the team in scoring (18.8 points per game) and assists (4.9), and has scored 20 or more points in his last five games. Senior guard Christian Terrell (14.3 points, team-high 6.1 rebounds) and junior guard Zach Johnson (13.4 points) join Goodwin to account for 46.8 percent of the Eagles’ scoring. Sophomore guard Christian Carlyle (7.2 points) has missed the last two games with a concussion.
ABOUT WICHITA STATE (9-2): Sophomore guard Landry Shamet (team highs of 16.5 points and 4.5 assists) is averaging 19.4 points and 6.2 assists in five December games. Junior guard Samajae Haynes-Jones (8.9 points), who averages the fewest minutes (14.1) in coach Gregg Marshall’s nine-man rotation, erupted for 27 points against Arkansas State after scoring 31 versus Savannah State and 31 in the other eight games he played. Senior forward Rashard Kelly (5.8 points, 7.9 rebounds) ranks second nationally in offensive rebound percentage, grabbing 18.4 percent of Wichita State’s missed shots while he’s on the floor.
1. Wichita State has won 44 straight non-conference games at Koch Arena and is 66-3 in such contests under coach Gregg Marshall.
2. FGCU, the two-time defending Atlantic Sun Conference champion, has four losses after blowing a double-digit lead this season after totaling four in the previous four campaigns.
3. The Shockers were third nationally in rebounding margin entering Thursday at plus-12.3.
PREDICTION: Wichita State 80, FGCU 58