MEMPHIS, Tenn. – For the second straight year, Temple will face Wichita State in an America Athletic Conference basketball quarterfinal.
Third-seeded Temple (23-8), which had a first-round bye, will meet No. 6 Wichita State (18-13), in Friday’s 9 p.m. (ET) quarterfinal at FedEx Forum.
Wichita State advanced with Thursday’s 73-57 win over No. 11 East Carolina U in a game that ended after midnight ET.
Last year Wichita State beat Temple in this same quarterfinal round, 89-81.
Unlike last year when Wichita State knew it would be in the NCAA tournament regardless of how far it fared in the AAC tourney, the Shockers must win the title to earn an eighth straight NCAA berth.
Temple played the Shockers just once this year and won, 85-81, in overtime at Wichita State on Jan. 6.
The Shockers began the year 1-6 in the AAC but have now won 10 of their last 12 games, albeit against the weaker portion of their schedule.
East Carolina (10-21) hung with Wichita State for the first part of the first half, but trailed, 39-27, at halftime. The Shockers pulled away for good early in the second half. With about eight minutes left in the game, the Shockers starters were on the bench for good, resting for the Owls.
The Temple players attended the first half, but departed at halftime because they had an early morning shootaround on Friday at the arena.
Wichita State hurt ECU with its size, something Temple will be wary of. The Shockers got a major boost from 7-foot sophomore reserve Asbjorn Midtgaard, who hails from Denmark. Averaging 3.4 points entering the game, he had six of his 10 points by halftime.
After the game, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said he has been pulling for Temple all year, except when they play the Shockers. Marshall has in the past spoken glowingly of Fran Dunphy, who is in his final season and will be replaced by associate head coach Aaron McKie.
“I would like to see coach Dunphy in NCAA tournament in his last year,” Marshall said. “I hope they are solidly in, I feel they have done enough to be in.”
He knows what his team has to do to earn an NCAA berth.
“We are both trying to do the same thing to get in the NCAAA tournament,” Marshall said. "Our only way is to win the next game and the two subsequent games.”
Wichita State’s best player is 6-8 senior Markis McDuffie, a second-team all-AAC selection, who had 24 points and seven rebounds in the earlier loss to the Owls. McDuffie finished with 15 points (11 of 12 from the foul line) and three rebounds against ECU.
He is expecting a difficult matchup with the Owls.
“They are a really good team,” McDuffie said. “They are from Philadelphia with a very city-like game. We are going to have to guard the ball one on one and just help the helper and play smarter and more aggressive so we can pull out the win.”