Shockers tip off tourney run against Mustangs

Mar 21, 2014 - 2:57 PM St. Louis, MO ( - The Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament bracket shifts over to St. Louis, where the 16th-seeded Cal Poly Mustangs will clash with the unbeaten and region's top-seeded Wichita State Shockers at the Scottrade Center.

The winner of this contest will move on to the third round and face either Kentucky or Kansas State.

Cal Poly might already be making a case for Cinderella story this season. The Mustangs, who had lost five of their last six games going into the Big West Tournament, won three consecutive games in the league's postseason and ran to an unprecedented conference title. They followed that up by beating Texas Southern, 81-69, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Wednesday night to earn the date with Wichita State.

The Shockers will be quite the road block, though. Wichita State enters this contest as the last remaining unbeaten team in college basketball, and finished the season as the second-ranked team in the country. The Shockers easily took down Indiana State in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game, 83-69.

These two teams have met once in their program histories, with the Shockers winning that contest in 1976, 76-57.

In the first round of the NCAA Tournament to determine which team would move on to play Wichita State, Texas Southern proved to be no match whatsoever for Cal Poly, which has now won four consecutive games in the most crucial part of the season. The contest also marked Cal Poly's first-ever NCAA Tournament clash. Chris Eversley was productive as usual for the Mustangs, netting 19 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Dave Nwaba tallied 17 points, and Brian Bennett came off the bench to score 10 points in 10 minutes of playing time. Cal Poly hit 56.9 percent of its shots from the floor.

Eversley and Nwaba have been consistent all season long for Cal Poly, even in times when the team would go on multi-game skids. Eversley tops the squad with a 13.7 ppg average, and also leads in rebounding at 7.2 rpg. Nwaba checks in behind Eversley in scoring at 12 ppg, and the next closest in Kyle Odister's 9.2 ppg mark. Jamal Johnson leads the Mustangs with 93 assists on the year, but additional playing time for Ridge Shipley is giving Cal Poly a boost at the point guard position.

It was a last-ditch effort by Indiana State to try and end Wichita State's perfect season in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game, and the thought of a win for the Sycamores ended almost as quickly as it started. Wichita State jumped out to a 39-29 lead at the end of the first half, and continued to build on that advantage in the second frame. Fred VanVleet topped the Shockers in scoring in the contest, which was played way back on March 9, with 22 points and added five assists in the contest. Tekele Cotton scored 20 points for Wichita State, and Ron Baker chipped in 14. Both Cleanthony Early and Darius Carter contributed 10 points to the blowout win.

Early led a group of four Wichita State players in double-digit scoring figures this season. He leads the team entering this clash with Cal Poly netting 15.8 ppg, adding a team-high 5.9 rpg mark to his resume. Baker is scoring 13.1 ppg, and VanVleet chips in 12.1 ppg with a team-high 179 assists on the year. Cotton rounds out that group with 10.8 ppg through 34 games played. The Shockers average 75.5 ppg, and give up just 59.6 ppg to opponents.

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