LMU vs. Wichita State Preview


The Loyola Marymount Lions are in for their toughest test of the season on Monday night, as they face off against the #11 Wichita State Shockers as part of the Hawaii Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

This matchup is undoubtedly LMU’s toughest test of the season and is one of the premier non-conference games for any WCC team. Since defeating #1 Gonzaga in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, the Shockers have absolutely stormed the college basketball world, consistently ranking in the top 25 and hanging with the country’s best teams.

This season is no different, as Wichita State is once again one of the top teams in the nation.

Dec 16, 2014; Wichita, KS, USA; Wichita State Shockers guard Ron Baker (31) reacts after scoring a basket against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second half at Charles Koch Arena. Wichita State won 53-52. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Star shooting guard Ron Baker is averaging a team-high 18.0 PPG, and Preseason All-American Fred VanVleet continues to be one of, if not the, best point guards in the country. Combine that with the play of seniors Darius Carter and Tekele Cotton, and you’ve got one of the most formidable teams in the NCAA.The Shockers hold a 8-1 record, with their only loss coming to then-no. 25 Utah. They’ve captured some impressive wins over the likes of St. Louis, Memphis, and most recently, Alabama.

What’s most noteworthy, though, is that none of Wichita State’s opponents have managed to reach 70 points. Even Utah, the sole victor against the Shockers, failed to reach the 70 point mark. This speaks volumes to the Shockers’ level of defensive intensity. Not only can Wichita State make it rain from anywhere on the floor, but their suffocating defense is now matching their prolific offense.

However, there is a slight glimmer of hope for Loyola Marymount. The Shockers were putrid in their last matchup against Alabama. Though they came away with the W, the road to that victory was far from pretty. Alabama controlled the tempo of the entire game, leading Wichita by 11 with only five minutes left.

It wasn’t until about the final minute that the Shockers stepped up their game, using pressure defense to put a halt to Alabama’s control. Wichita State scored 13 of the game’s last 14 points, eventually winning by a score of 53-52.

It was easily the Shockers’ worst performance of the year. But it’s exactly this type of outing that LMU is hoping for on Monday night. If Wichita State gets off to another slow start, the Lions need to take serious advantage of it. I believe LMU has a chance at being this week’s Alabama – if Wichita has another sluggish beginning to the game, the Lions need to jump on that opportunity and start torching it from the field.

We saw a great effort in LMU’s recent loss to Stanford, in which a vast majority of the team made some excellent contributions, with each player scoring at least seven points. If that same effort can be exhibited by the entire team and guys like Evan Payne and Godwin Okonji can have dominating performances, then the Lions have a shot. But they absolutely need to replicate that resounding production that we last week, or else this game’s going to be a blowout.

The matchup starts at 11:00 pm E.T. on ESPNU.