November 28, 2014

Tekele Cotton enjoyed a strong start to his senior season until an injured finger forced him to miss Wichita State's most recent contest.

The preseason all-Missouri Valley Conference guard hopes to pick up where he left off Saturday, as he's expected to return to help the No. 9 Shockers continue their recent success against visiting Tulsa.

Cotton, who averaged 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists while starting all 36 contests last season, totaled 27 points and nine boards in two games before sitting out Sunday's 105-57 rout of Division II Newman.

He initially wasn't expected to start practicing until after Thanksgiving, but appears ready to do even more.

Cotton has hit half of his 22 field-goals attempts and re-joins a Shockers squad looking to build on a 52.2-percent shooting performance against Newman. Wichita State missed its first 18 3-point attempts of the season and went 4 of 27 over the first two before an 18-of-23 effort from beyond the arc Sunday.

Ron Baker went 4 of 6 on 3s in the Shockers' highest-scoring contest since beating Newman 102-53 on Dec. 19, 2011.

''I've said all along this is going to be a very good shooting team,'' said coach Gregg Marshall, whose squad has won 34 straight regular-season contests. ''It was nice to see those shots falling.''

Baker is shooting 48.6 percent while averaging 18.3 points. He's gone 6 for his last 12 from 3-point range.

With Baker apparently on track, Wichita State needs Cotton's backcourt mate Fred VanVleet (11.0 ppg) to find his stroke. VanVleet has shot 37.5 percent overall and gone 1 of 9 from beyond the arc through three games.

The junior made 48.4 percent from the field last season.

"Fred's a good shooter," Marshall said. "It will come."

Baker and VanVleet each scored 21 points as the Shockers broke open a game tied at 31 at halftime last Nov. 20, shooting 53.6 percent in the final 20 minutes to win 77-54 at Tulsa.

Wichita State has won six straight over the Golden Hurricane (3-2).

Tulsa has not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 38.9 percent from 3-point range, but Oklahoma State made 51.9 percent overall to hand the Golden Hurricane a 73-58 loss in Wednesday's championship game of the MGM Grand Main Event.

Tulsa shot 34.8 percent and went 4 of 15 from beyond the arc.

"We have to make shots to win a game like (that), and we didn't shoot the ball very well," coach Frank Haith told the school's official website.

Tulsa's leading scorer each of the last two seasons, guard James Woodard again leads the way at 12.4 points per contest. He was held to eight against the Shockers last season.

The Golden Hurricane have dropped 13 straight road contests against ranked opponents since an 88-68 victory at then-No. 11 Tennessee on Dec, 23, 1999.

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