NCAAB: New-look teams raise stakes as Missouri hosts Wichita State

Wichita State’s rebuilt roster will face its toughest test Tuesday night when the Shockers host the unbeaten Missouri Tigers.

Wichita State (4-2) enters on the heels of Saturday’s 83-71 home victory over Tarleton, while the Tigers (7-0) are riding their best start since 2013-14.

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After scoring 23 total points in his first five games for Wichita State, Southeastern Louisiana transfer Gus Okafor scored 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the Shockers’ victory over Tarleton. He is one of eight players the Shockers added from other Division I programs this season.

“I think all of those guys are trying to figure it out,” Shockers coach Isaac Brown said. “It’s new to all of them. I told him (Okafor) to keep focusing on the little things that you can control, like defending, rebounding, playing with toughness, executing what we’re supposed to do on offense and defense and your shots will come.”

Okafor hit 9-of-11 shots from the field against Tarleton, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range. But it was his strong overall play that earned him a season-high 31 minutes.

“I just tried to focus on playing as hard as I can and let the game come to me,” Okafor said. “I felt like I was kind of relying on my shooting (before), so I just got going on the offensive boards and that kept me going through the whole game.”

Missouri opened its season by sweeping its seven home games against mid- and low-major teams while integrating 12 new players. The Tigers have five players averaging double figures in points, led by D’Moi Hodge’s 16.6.

Five different players have led the team in scoring already this season and seven players have recorded a team high in assists. Missouri is averaging 23.3 assists, most among Division I schools.

“Coming in this summer, it felt like we already knew each other here,” said guard DeAndre Gholston, who scored a team-high 22 points in the 105-69 victory Saturday over Houston Christian. “We just connected very well and it’s just showing right now.

“I think as we keep going throughout the season, there’s gonna be tough times. But as long as we stay connected, it’ll be good for us.”

–Field Level Media

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