No. 23 Wichita State (9-0) at Tennessee (4-3)
Thursday, Dec. 13, 7:00 p.m. ET
Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) . Knoxville, Tenn.
TV: Fox Sports South
Radio: Vol Network (WGOW-FM 102.3, Chattanooga)
Series Record: Wichita State leads, 2-0
Probable Wichita State Starters
F-Cleanthony Early, 6-8, 214, JR (13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
F-Carl Hall, 6-8, 238, SR (13.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.7 bpg)
G-Malcolm Armstead, 6-0, 205, SR (7.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.4 apg)
G-Demetric Williams, 6-2, 178, SR (7.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.6 apg, .529 3PT)
G-Ron Baker, 6-3, 218, R-FR (7.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.9 apg)
Key Reserves: Nick Wiggins (6-6, 187, JR); Fred Van Vleet (5-11, 190, FR); Chadrack Lufile (6-9, 251, JR); Tekele Cotton (6-2, 202, SO), Ehimen Orukpe (7-0, 250, SR); Evan Wessell (6-5, 201, SO).
Probable Tennessee Starters
F-Kenny Hall, 6-9, 230, SR, (7.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
F-Josh Richardson, 6-6, 188, SO, (6.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
C-Jarnell Stokes, 6-8, 270, SO, (11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg)
G-Skylar McBee, 6-3, 195, SR , (7.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg, .342 3PT)
G-Trae Golden, 6-1, 205, JR, (11.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.6 apg)
Key Reserves: Jordan McRae (6-5, 178, JR); Armani Moore (6-5, 203, FR); Quinton Chievous (6-5, 201, R-FR); Yemi Makanjuola (6-9, 250, SO); D’Montre Edwards (6-6, 220, JR).
The opening tip
Some observers of Missouri Valley Conference basketball assumed Wichita State would take a step backwards this season after losing five seniors and three starters off a 27-6 team that played in the NCAA tournament. And that was understandable, considering how much those seniors-All-MVC center Garrett Stutz (13.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg); All-MVC guard Joe Ragland (13.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.3 apg); Toure Murry (12.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg); David Kyles (.348 3PT) and Ben Smith (.386 3PT)-provided.
So far, the only step the program has taken under veteran coach Gregg Marshall is forward. The Shockers have gotten off to a 9-0 start-tying the best in school history-including wins over VCU, DePaul, Iowa and Tulsa, and last week entered the Associated Press Top 25.
Marshall, who sustained a quality program at his previous job, Winthrop-which went to seven NCAA tournaments in his nine seasons-is doing the same thing at Wichita State.
The coach whose name was under consideration for the Tennessee job a couple of times in the last decade has a deep team, and he isn’t afraid to use his bench. In a Dec. 8 win over Northern Colorado, Wichita State was missing starters Ehimen Orukpe (ankle) and Evan Wessel (hand), but still won by 26 points as Marshall evenly distributed playing time among 10 players. All 10 played between 18 and 22 minutes, and all of them scored.
Expect the Shockers to be competitive at Tennessee. The last two seasons they have put together the best record in Division I in true road games (22-3).
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall on trying to set the program record for best start to a season: “It would be nice to the first team in this proud program’s history to start 10-0. You can’t get to 11-0 unless you get to 10.”
Tennessee is paying tribute to former coach Ray Mears during this game. Mears’ career will be highlighted with video features that will be played throughout the game. . The Knoxville News-Sentinel has quoted injured forward Jeronne Maymon‘s father Tim as saying his son is “100 percent,” and just trying to get himself back in game shape before his return to the team. … Tennessee freshman Derek Reese continues his rapid recovery from August surgery to repair a torn labrum, and it’s possible he could return to action by the end of the month. Other players who have undergone that surgery have been lost for the season, but Reese has already been taking part in practice. He hasn’t been cleared for contact yet, but there’s a chance that could happen in a couple of weeks. If he can make jump shots, Reese will be a welcome addition. . This game marks the first time Tennessee and Wichita State have played on either team’s home floor. The first game between the Vols and Shockers was in the 1990 Rainbow Classic. More recently, Wichita State, then coached by current Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, knocked Tennessee, then coached by Bruce Pearl, out of the 2006 NCAA tournament. . Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall and Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin are familiar with one another, having played six times when Martin was coaching Missouri State in the Missouri Valley Conference. . Speaking of the Valley, the Vols haven’t fared well against that league over the years (5-7, .417). One of the more memorable-or forgettable-of those seven losses came in the 1999 NCAA tournament, when a Tennessee team led by former coach Jerry Green got waxed by Missouri State, then coached by Steve Alford, 81-51.