Wichita State enters this game following a loss to USC on Thursday. Wichita is ranked 20th in the AP poll, but will likely exit the next poll as they currently sit at 2-2. The Shockers are vulnerable right now as Fred Van Vleet, their starting point guard, and arguably their best overall player, is sitting out with a hamstring injury. Nevertheless, they're still a veteran, well-coached team with a fanbase that travels, and there will be pressure for them to bounce back and finish strong this weekend. For all intents and purposes, tomorrow will be like a true road game environment for Alabama as the Shocker fans will easily outnumber the Crimson Tide supporters in attendance. This Bama team showed an ability to bounce back following the loss at Dayton. Let's hope they can do it again.
Ron Baker has been forced to take up the slack while Van Vleet sits out. He's responded by averaging 21.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.3 apg and has knocked down 43% of his 3 point shots. Alabama must limit his production tomorrow. The other double figure scorer for Wichita State is Anton Grady. He's averaging 10.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, and 1.0 bpg. In total, Wichita State has seven players that are averaging 5 points or higher so there is balance on the offensive end. As of now, Van Vleet is expected to miss all three games in Orlando. His backup, Landry Shamet, also sat out the USC game. His status for the remainder of the event is unknown. In their place, Wichita has been playing Baker and Ty Taylor II, a freshman, at the point. Alabama needs to exploit Wichita's weakness and inexperience at that position. Forcing turnovers while not allowing Wichita State to control the pace of the game will be imperative for Alabama. Post scoring has also been an issue for Alabama. It would be nice to see more touches for Jimmie (only 4.25 field goal attempts per game so far) and Mike (2.25 field goal attempts per game, despite the fact that Mike has converted 88% of his field goals).