Tekele Cotton checked out of the game to a standing ovation. He looked over to his teammates on the court and flashed two fingers.
He probably meant two three-pointers he made.
Or maybe it was two more games to go.
While Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker struggled to find their offense due to some untimely fouls, Cotton scored a career-high 21 points. He helped the Wichita State Shockers clinch the outright regular season Missouri Valley Conference Championship with a 83-54 victory Saturday night.
Cotton’s performance was, in the Gregg Marshall era of the Shockers, virtually unprecedented.
The junior guard became the first player to record seven steals in a single game since Robert George in 1992.
Put it in even more remarkable context: the last Shocker player to come close to seven steals in a single game was Jimmy Bolden when he had six steals in 1993 against the Florida Gators.
“Was there more than one Tekele Cotton out there?" head coach Marshall said." He was incredible; he was all over the place."
The Shockers (29-0, 16-0 MVC) put on an “incredible” defensive performance. The Drake Bulldogs(14-14, 5-11 MVC) were the Shockers' latest casualty of Koch Arena, the grindhouse of college basketball.
Drake was held to just 29-percent shooting in the first half and three made three-pointers the entire game. Drake is second in The Valley with an average of eight three-point makes a game.
Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti tried to run some basket cuts to start the game, but his team missed both lay-ups that were drawn out of the set plays.
“Credit to Wichita," he said. "They really get out, deny and pressure you, and they have a safety net at the rim to put you in bad spots once you think you get by the initial pressure."
Giacoletti is certainly familiar the Shockers. He was the assistant on last year’s Gonzaga team that bowed out to them last year in the NCAA Tournament. Yet, he was in such awe of the Shockers’ performance, he went on to make what some Wichitans may consider a strong statement.
“I had an up close and personal look at them a year ago, cause they knocked us out when I was a Gonzaga," he said. "It’s a much better basketball team now then it was at that time last year."
Marshall didn’t want to go that far.
“This team scores it better and I’ll leave at that,” he said. “I’m still going to that last year’s team in pretty high esteem.”
Shockers move to 29-0, clinch Missouri Valley Conference
The Sunflower | Feb 23