Kansas City, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - The 12th-ranked Wichita State Shockers will try to win the CBE Hall of Fame Classic Championship when they meet the BYU Cougars at the Sprint Center on Tuesday night.
After suffering a heartbreaking loss, their first of the season, last Wednesday against now No. 17 Iowa State (90-88), the Cougars got back in the win column with a hard-fought 86-82 triumph over Texas on Monday. The victory was the fifth in six tries for BYU and the first away from its homecourt.
The Shockers kept up their impressive start to the year on Monday as they rolled over DePaul in the second semifinal of the event. The Shockers' 90-72 triumph over the Blue Demons was their sixth in as many games this year. In those six wins, Wichita State has not been victorious by fewer than 14 points.
On Monday, the Cougars made up for their failing in crunch time against the Cyclones by ending their victory over Texas with a 7-2 spurt. The Cougars hit 45.2 percent of their shots from the floor in the victory, including a stellar 10-of-12 performance from 3-point distance.
The Shockers have won six of the seven all-time meetings between these two programs.
Tyler Haws knocked down a jumper off an assist from Matt Carlino to spark the decisive run for the Cougars in the final minutes against Texas. BYU's major advantage in the contest was from 3-point range as the Cougars netted an incredible 10-of-12 shots from there.
The connection in the backcourt between Carlino and Haws has been a productive one for the Cougars. Haws (26.0 ppg) has been ripping the net at a torrid pace in his four games played while also contributing well on the boards (7.3 ppg). Carlino (18.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.5 apg) can score as well as set up his teammates for open looks. Against Texas the duo combined for 45 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyle Collinsworth (12.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 5.7 apg) is another effective performer in the backcourt. Eric Mika (13.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg) is the most utilized scorer in the frontcourt. With such a strong group of scorers the Cougars have had no issue filling it up this season, netting 93.2 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field.
Thanks to a healthy dose of shots from the interior, the Shockers were easily able to overcome DePaul. The Shockers outscored the Blue Demons by a wide margin in the paint (50-30) and also willed their way to the free-throw line at a steady rate as they got 25 points from the charity stripe.
That type of aggression in attacking the basket has helped the Shockers produce at a very high level offensively. Wichita State is scoring 81.7 points per game and shooting at a 49.1 percent rate from the field. Add in tight defensive efforts that have kept foes to below 60 points per game and 40 percent shooting and it is no wonder the Shockers have gotten off to such a strong start. Of the four double-digit scorers on the roster, Cleanthony Early (14.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is the most valuable while he also finds time to clean the glass better than any player on the squad. Ron Baker (14 ppg), Fred VanVleet (13.2 ppg, 5.8 apg) and Tekele Cotton (11.0 ppg) are also reliable offensive threats in a rotation that's only drawback is a lack of depth.