The fabric of your life---
Tennessee owned a three point lead with 9:35 left at Intrust Bank Arena on Saturday-- only to see Tekele Cotton hit two free throws, make a great block to save a bucket on the other end and then score an old fashioned three point play. Cotton had 14 of his team high 19 points down that nine and a half minute stretch and was a big reason the Shockers were able to start 10-0 for the first time in its storied history.
Cotton added five rebounds, four assists; two steals and a block in the 70-61 win which avenges a loss last year in Knoxville that would have seen WSU go to 10-0. What you love about Tekele Cotton is his willingness to do whatever it takes to win, without a single care about who gets the credit. He is the quintessential team player on team full of them, that he’s improved his shot so much makes him so much more than the defensive specialist many thought him to be. He was inspiring against the Vols.
Speaking of tough---
“For him to play 32 minutes is unimaginable”.
Gregg Marshall was shaking his head when he said this about Ron Baker, who played despite sustaining an ankle sprain not even 24 hours before. No, Baker didn’t have his best game, but he had his most courageous and don’t think that teammates don’t take their cues off things like that. It killed Baker to miss the amount of time he did last season, it’s not surprising to me that he showed up ready to go, it did surprise me that he went so hard for so long. Baller.
Darius Carter seemed more comfortable with the bigger, longer athletes of the Vols and he played large with 11 points and 14 rebounds off the bench. Just as importantly, he was part of the three Shocker bigs who helped neutralize Jarnell Stokes who’d come into the game off four straight double-doubles during which he averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds, holding him to 8 and 4 was a big key for the Shockers.
Cleanthony Early wouldn’t be talked about as an NBA talent if he didn’t have that kind of ability, even though he’s putting up decent numbers he continues to look like he’s forcing things. It’s interesting that a guy gets the professional attention for playing one way, then, once he gets it, changes the way he plays.
It’s just one man’s opinion, but there were far too many forced or bad shots taken against Tennessee, too few rebounds, too many bad decisions and what’s worse some that looked selfish down the stretch. For Wichita State to have the type of season it wants Cle has got to be a better decision maker, he’s got the game he just has to have the head as well. I can only imagine how exciting it is to get the type of attention he has, but you have to be able to handle it lest you’re hindered by it.
On to Dixie---
Alabama is off to halting start, but they’ll be more than capable at home on Tuesday night. Like Tennessee, they’ll have SEC athletes and, in Kansas City’s Trevor Releford, an experienced point guard whose 1-1 against the Shockers. It’s interesting, that for teams like Tennessee and Alabama, who play in a league with Kentucky and Florida, that Wichita State is a big game-- but the Shockers wouldn’t want it any other way and to their credit they seem more than comfortable that their reputation now precedes them.