Team Profile: 2007 BracketBuster Recap: Appalachian State 60, Wichita State 58

by David Mihm | February 17th, 2007

Appalachian State is officially on the bubble. The Mountaineers recorded their fifth marquee win away from home on Saturday with a 60-58 win over a respectable Wichita State team. The WSU win comes after neutral-courters over Virginia and Vanderbilt and road wins at VCU and Davidson.Thompson hit a game-winning floater from the shoulder to propel the Mountaineers to victory, but the undisputed player of the game was App State forward Donte Minter. Minter was 9-11 from the field, despite consistent double-teams from Wichita State, and opened up the only outside shots that App State was able to make.

The game started sloppy on both sides of the ball. Turnovers and forced shots abounded, but Wichita State G Sean Ogirri found the hot hand quickly, knocking down four first-half threes. He probably would have had 20 first half points had Mark Turgeon not taken him out of the game in a very surprising move. Appalachian State’s team defense did an excellent job on Wichita star Kyle Wilson throughout the game, and KW was kept entirely in check in the first half.

The Mountaineers’ “two-faced” offense was a thing of beauty whenever they worked it inside to Minter early in the possession. But ASU also settled for a ton of contested three-pointers prior to getting the ball inside to Donte, which was surprising given the poor rate with which they converted those shots (23%).

Wichita’s interior defense toughened up in the second half, which limited Minter’s touches. On offense, Phillip Thomasson did an excellent job getting himself involved in the flow of the game, and Wichita State looked like they were on the verge of breaking the game wide open with 9:00 left.

But App State’s Eduardo Bermudez nailed a key three with 9:00 left in the game that seemed to spark the Mountaineers. Wichita scored just two points in the next four-plus minutes, and it was now App State’s game to lose. Minter blocked Kyle Wilson’s layup effort with 1:00 left, and it looked like App State would safely head away with a victory.

But to Wilson’s credit, he responded on the next possession by nailing a corner three-pointer to tie the game at 58 with just 17 seconds left, his only made FG of the entire contest.

That set the stage for D.J. Thompson, just 2-for-10 before the game’s final possession, who made a nice drive to the right side of the floor before pulling up for the winning 12-foot floater.

Wichita State now must win the Missouri Valley Tournament in order to defend its Sweet 16 appearance from a year ago. Ogirri, who disappeared in the second half, simply needs more touches, and Wilson has to be more active in calling for the ball if this team is going to get there.

No single player other than Minter was impressive for App State, but their team’s persistence was. I would not be surprised to see the Mountaineers pull a first-round upset similar to Northwestern State’s buzzer-beater over Iowa last year. ASU has the defensive ability to hang around until the final minute. They also have enough of an inside-outside combination to hit the open shot and cause plenty of off-season heartache for a favorite.

–David Mihm

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