Sixth-ranked Wichita State survived a scare in its opening game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational and hopes for a more complete effort when it meets Marquette in Tuesday’s semifinals at Lahaina Civic Center. The Shockers recovered from an 18-point, second-half deficit to produce a 92-82 victory over California on Monday, while Marquette advanced with a 94-83 win over Virginia Commonwealth.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall was exasperated over his team’s first-half play, impressed with the second-half rebound and wary of the Golden Eagles. “Well, it should be a great game. I know they’re going to play hard,” Marshall told reporters after the triumph. “They’ve got some really good sharpshooters. ... Whoever wins has a chance to play for a championship, so I‘m anticipating a really good game.” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski sees a tall task standing in front of his squad. “Gregg has built an elite-level program,” Wojciechowski told reporters. “I think at this time of the season, because of their experience, they’re as good as any team in the United States. It will be an incredible test for our young team.”
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ABOUT MARQUETTE (2-1): Sophomore Markus Howard helped fuel the victory over VCU by scoring 18 of his 22 points in the second half, stating that he hit the “restart button” at halftime. “I think just not really getting discouraged and letting the game come to me,” Howard told reporters regarding the difference. “I mean, I missed a couple shots and I can’t really even think about it. I have to move on to the next play.” Howard’s 19-point average ranks second on the team behind senior guard Andrew Rowsey, who scored 20 against the Rams and averages 22.7.
ABOUT WICHITA STATE (3-0): Senior center Shaquille Morris scored a career-best 25 points while also recording seven rebounds and four blocked shots in a solid performance against Cal. Morris, who is averaging 19.7 points, moved into fourth place on the school’s all-time blocks list with 106, passing former NBA star Xavier McDaniel (103 from 1981-85) and Gene Wiley (105 from 1959-62). Sophomore guard Landry Shamet (16.7) matched his career high of 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
1. Marquette holds a 4-3 series edge, but the teams have not met since the 1977-78 season.
2. Golden Eagles sophomore G/F Sam Hauser contributed 20 points and nine rebounds against VCU, raising his season averages to 12 and a team-leading 7.7.
3. Shamet was 4-for-4 from 3-point range against Cal while the rest of the Shockers were 2-for-21.
PREDICTION: Wichita State 91, Marquette 84