Shockers face stiff road challenge at Tennessee

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The 23rd-ranked Wichita State Shockers will put their undefeated mark to the test on the road Thursday night when they travel to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Wichita State has risen in the national rankings after moving to 9-0 following its 80-54 home win over Northern Colorado last Saturday. Other signature wins for the Shockers have been at VCU (53-51) and versus Iowa to capture the Cancun Challenge Championship (75-63). A win in this matchup would make them 10-0 for the first time in school history.

The 2012-13 campaign started off very well for the Vols, as they won four of their first five games, with their only loss coming against Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (62-45). Tennessee has fallen back to 4-3 however, following back-to-back road losses against Georgetown (37-36) and Virginia (46-38).

Wichita State has won both of the all-time meetings against Tennessee, most recently downing the Vols, 80-73, in the second round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

The Shockers have been impressive in all facets of the game through the first month of the season, as they shoot 47 percent from the floor and hold their opponents to just 38.3 percent, while putting together impressive scoring (plus-14.6) and rebounding (plus-7.6) margins. The dominating play continued in the 26-point victory over Northern Colorado, as they shot a lofty 55.6 percent from the field, including 12-of-24 from 3-point range. Pacing four teammates in double figures was Cleanthony Early with 16 points. Nick Wiggins drained 4-of-6 3-pointers from off the bench for 14 points, while Demetric Williams scored 12 points and Malcolm Armstrong tallied 11 points and four assists. Wichita State is used to getting a well-rounded effort, as seven players average at least 5.0 ppg. Early leads the way with 13.9 ppg, while Hall has been an imposing presence in the frontcourt with 13.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, and 1.8 bpg.

Tennessee has been remarkably inconsistent through its first seven games, as it scored an impressive 77.8 ppg in its four wins and a dreadful 39.7 ppg in its three losses. The Vols were ice-cold once again in their eight-point loss to Virginia, spoiling a great effort on the defensive end of the floor by shooting just 28.8 percent from the field, including 3-of-19 from beyond the arc. Trae Golden was the only player to score in double figures with 11 points, while Jarnell Stokes (five points) recorded nine rebounds, a block, and a steal. Stokes (11.9 ppg) and Golden (11.6 ppg) are the only two UT players to score double digits on a nightly basis, with Stokes leading the team in field goal percentage (.561) and rebounding (7.9 rpg), while Golden dishes out 4.6 ppg. Despite their offensive struggles, the Vols have held opponents to just 57.0 ppg on 38.6 percent shooting (.237 from 3-point range) and they commit less than 13 turnovers per contest.