Wichita State looks to tune up against Division II Newman

·2 min read

Wichita State faced yet another challenge this week -- finding an opponent to round out 2020 and keep the squad's momentum going.

On Monday the Shockers' American Athletic Conference foe East Carolina was forced to postpone Wednesday night's game due to a positive COVID-19 test and contact tracing in the Pirates' program.

The Shockers (4-2) jumped into scramble mode and found a replacement nearby in Wichita-based Newman, an NCAA Division II university that competes in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

The Jets (2-4) last played on Dec. 19 when they routed Central Oklahoma 90-68 -- leading 46-19 at halftime -- and were slated to be idle until Saturday.

The host Shockers will play the Wednesday night contest as a nonconference affair, while Newman will treat it as an exhibition.

The meeting between the neighboring teams will serve as a tune-up for Wichita State in preparation for a pair of tough road tests over the next week.

WSU will travel to Mississippi for Saturday's game against SEC opponent Ole Miss (5-1). And the stakes pick up in the conference next Wednesday at No. 5 Houston, which currently sports a 7-0 overall mark and sits atop the conference standings.

The Shockers find themselves in a good position in AAC play as they, Houston (2-0) and SMU (1-0) are the only schools to have an unblemished conference mark in the young season.

The standout play of Tyson Etienne has been a major reason for WSU's success.

Etienne sparked the Shockers on Dec. 22 by pumping in 25 points in an 82-77 overtime win at South Florida.

Etienne's performance earned him AAC Player of the Week honors -- the third time this season he was on the conference's honor roll. His six rebounds and four assists also matched career highs.

The Shockers are riding high after road wins over USF and Tulsa -- two clubs picked ahead of them in the preseason polls.

"I've remained confident in my guys since Day One," said Etienne. "We're still battling. To go on the road and get two victories against two really good teams is really good for us going into the stretch we're about to have coming off Christmas break. It's motivating and encouraging to get that."

Added interim coach Isaac Brown of Etienne: "Tyson had a great second half and scored 21 points. We got Tyson some wide-open shots."

--Field Level Media