UCF opens tough stretch of road at Wichita State

Like many programs that deal with an uneven schedule due to disruptions in COVID-19, arrangements for Wichita State practice have required significant thought.

“What I want to try to do is just keep these guys as busy as possible,” said Shocker’s interim coach Isaac Brown. “We have to train like a game because so many games are postponed.”

Wichita State (8-4, 4-2 American Athletic Conference) will only play its second game in 18 days on Saturday when it hosts UCF (4-6, 2-5) in Wichita, Kan. straight at home, where the Shockers have won six straight in the league game that goes back to last season.

Back-to-back matchups scheduled for South Florida on Sunday and Cincinnati on Wednesday must be postponed, the latest in a series of COVID-related issues in the AAC.

Nevertheless, Brown found plenty of details to deal with his team in practice, much of it stemming from their worst loss of the season, 72-52, in Memphis on January 21st.

“We all felt bad after that game. I felt bad all night, all day in practice,” Brown said. “We had film (study). That’s when we keep the 100 and we tell the truth and we all called ourselves on film and we got better.”

Against Memphis, misses on all 12 first-half attempts from 3-point intervals created a big hole. Leading goal scorer Tyson Etienne, the team’s only double – digit goal scorer (16.7), missed 11 of his 12 attempts on field goals and finished with a season low of three points against the Tigers.

UCF beat a five-game losing streak, matching the Knights’ longest-running fifth-year coach Johnny Dawkins, by overthrowing East Carolina 71-64 on Wednesday.

Even if Dawkins failed the Knights’ energy in the second half when the Pirates gathered, the win would boost his team’s confidence.

“We’ve had a tough distance,” he said. “Many challenges come with it. Winning such a win will go a long way for the guys in terms of their mindset.”

Dawkins’ theory will be severely tested due to a modernized schedule. The visit to Wichita State begins a stretch of four games in eight days, including back-to-back games at Memphis on Monday and Wednesday followed by a game against Tulsa on February 6.

“It reminds me of my NBA days. We had those road trips,” Dawkins said. “We will look at as positive, play a lot of basketball, the game we love.”

Brandon Mahan leads UCF with an average of 14.4 points. Darin Green Jr. (12.9) shoots 41.4 percent from 3-point range.

– Field level media

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