Ricky Council's clutch shooting leads Wichita State to a 64-58 victory over South Alabama
WICHITA, Kansas - On a day when Wichita State struggled to get anything going on offense, the Shockers were in need of any sort of spark to get them going.
Ricky Council IV stepped into the starting lineup for Wichita State and took the game into his own hands. The junior transfer from Vincennes dropped his career-high,19-points, in a close 64-58 win over South Alabama (1-1).
Council made his second career start for the Shockers as game one hero, Tyson Etienne, came off the bench. Etienne was battling an illness that kept him out of Friday's practice and kept him from being in the starting lineup.
"I was doing what I can to secure the win for us," said Ricky Council. "I work on those catch and shoot and late in shot clock type of shots. Those shots felt normal to me, but I'm glad we got the win."
Etienne ended up playing the most minutes in the game (32:22) but struggled throughout the game. The sophomore guard went 1-for-10 from the field and shot 0-for-5 from the arc. He did add four points and three assists.
The offensive woes didn't just come from him. Junior guard Dexter Dennis went 2-for-9 from the field and 1-for-6 from three. He and Council lead the Shockers with eight rebounds.
"We definitely have some things to work on," said Dexter Dennis. "We got some problems, but we won. You rather figure out your problems when you're winning, rather when you're losing."
Wichita State kept going back and forth throughout the game and it became a game of runs. Coming out of halftime, the game was tied at 32, but South Alabama led the charge.
South Alabama's forward Javon Franklin led the way for the Jaguars with 18 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 8-for-11 from the field. Charles Manning Jr. also added 13 points.
The Shockers were running man defense but couldn't seem to stop the Jaguars, but once they switched to a zone, that's when the tide started to turn for the Shockers.
"They [South Alabama] are very talented," said Wichita State head coach Isaac Brown. "They came to play tonight and gave us a lot of problems. We went to a zone defense in the second half, it slowed them down, and made them shot tough threes."
In the final minutes of the game, Wichita State pulled together multiple chances on one possession after a couple of missed shots. After the third missed shot, Dennis crashed the boards, somehow tipped the ball into the air, and into the basket to give the Shockers a 61-56 lead.
South Alabama would come down the floor and make a basket of their own to return it to a three-point ball game. Despite the poor shooting performance, Etienne pulled in a rebound on a missed shot and forced South Alabama to foul him with 15 seconds left.
Etienne converted on both free throws to give them a point lead and it gave him sole possession of fifth place with 26 consecutive games with a free throw.
"These close games are helping us for the conference games," said Brown. "I feel like these two games are going to help us in the long run. It's helping us execute, get stops on the other end, and it helps our leadership. We were down 6 points today, but our guys didn't put their heads down."
The Shockers get their first program win over South Alabama and will face another first-time foe, Tarleton State, on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.