If Wichita State hopes to contend for the American Athletic Conference championship this season, it must overcome one of its biggest obstacles -- the Cincinnati Bearcats.
The Shockers (6-3, 2-1 AAC) will try to bust through that roadblock on Sunday when they host the Bearcats (3-6, 1-3) hoping to snap a six-game losing streak in the series in which the outcomes have been decided by an average of five points.
"In order to be one of the better teams in the conference, you've got to be able to take care of your home court," Wichita State interim coach Isaac Brown said. "Cincinnati has dominated this league with Houston since we've been in it. You can never count those guys out, so you can throw out their record. They're going to be a well-coached team. We just have to play well at home."
The Shockers are coming off a frustrating 70-63 defeat Wednesday at No. 11 Houston, the current AAC leader.
Wichita State witnessed the value of protecting the basketball as it turned the ball over only three times while building a 10-point lead in the first half only to see that edge slip away after halftime once its giveaway total ballooned to 11.
Tyson Etienne, Wichita State's leading scorer at 17.9 points per game, led the Shockers with 25 points and eight rebounds while Dexter Dennis finished with 18 points.
But Brown said Wichita State needs more from senior Alterique Gilbert, who went 2 for 12 from the field against Houston and was held to four points. Gilbert, averaging 10.8 points per game, is shooting only 25.0 percent from 3-point range.
While the Shockers look to get back on track, the Bearcats hope to build off their last game in which they snapped a five-game skid with a 76-69 victory Thursday at SMU.
Jeremiah Davenport finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds after earning his first start of the season as coach John Brannen went with a smaller lineup resulting in five Bearcats scoring in double figures.
"It was just for the better of the team," Davenport said. "I had a talk with my coach, and it wasn't really like, 'Oh, wow.' Just go out, do what you gotta do for your teammates. The outcome is this."
Cincinnati also hopes junior guard David DeJulius, who is shooting 36 percent overall and 16 percent from 3-point range, can improve on those numbers. DeJulius had 12 assists and nine rebounds against SMU and has been a factor on the defensive end.
--Field Level Media