Seven years ago, Wichita State bulled its way into the Sweet 16, where a Mark Turgeon-coached team wound up running into Jim Larranaga’s George Mason freight train. That Shockers team, seeded seventh, would have been the tournament’s Cinderella darlings, had the Patriots not snatched that title and carried it into the Final Four.
Faced with a similar situation, buoyed by early upsets and a Sweet 16 matchup against an even lower seed, this Wichita State installment took care of business.
The No. 9 Shockers were never truly challenged by No. 13 La Salle, wrapped up the second weekend’s first night with a 72-58 rout in Los Angeles. Wichita State made 5 of 12 three-pointers, led by 16 points at halftime and reached the program’s first-ever Elite Eight since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. After La Salle’s Jerrell Wright tied the game at 2-2 with a layup, the Shockers sprinted to a 12-0 run. Carl Hall had a monster line with 16 points (7 for 11 shooting), eight rebounds and four blocks.
The Explorers, who got 16 points apiece from Tyrone Garland and Wright but shot 35.7 percent as a team, end their program’s longest tournament run after topping Boise State in the play-in game, No. 4 Kansas State in the first round and No. 12 Ole Miss in the second round.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 29, 2013
Wichita State will face No. 2 Ohio State at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday with a Final Four appearance on the line, in a matchup that should be closer than some might expect.
Wichita State’s power game is a serious concern for Ohio State. The Shockers simply stifle teams. The Buckeyes have a tall task on Saturday.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 29, 2013
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Photos: Scenes from the tournament