Wichita State needs to defend its house

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -- Charles Koch Arena is one of the best home court advantages in the entire nation.

Mar 4, 2018; Wichita, KS, USA; [CAPTION] at Charles Koch Arena.

It was even ranked as an 'honorable mention' in this year's Sports Illustrated Top 10 Toughest Arenas for Opponents

But it's time for the Shockers to step it up.

They've only played one game in the Round House this season, an opening night 71-58 loss to Louisiana Tech.

This Sunday, Wichita State hosts Rice for only the second home game of the season.

Gregg Marshall said they need to protect their house.

"We need to protect our home court, regardless of whether it's Rice or Duke. We need to play well at home," he said. "We didn't play well the only time we've been there. Hopefully we've gotten that out of our system and can play well. The rest should take care of itself."

The team is returning from a three-game, five day road trip to Charleston, with a trip to Annapolis beforehand. Marshall said the young players are not adjusting well to the schedule.

"Tuesday was bad. Acted like they didn't want to practice. Wednesday was very good. That's kind of like our performance," he said. "You've got to want to practice. It can't be just the coaches wanting to practice. The players have to want to practice before we can get better."

One of the players who did want to practice was senior Markis McDuffie, who finally found his stride on the road. He started in Providence, busting out a career-high 32 points in 31 minutes. He followed that performance shooting 22.6 points per game through the Charleston Classic.

"He played like he's capable of playing – like he has all fall and summer. He's shot the ball well, but I think what got him going was making hustle plays," Marshall said. "It started in the Providence game with him sprinting the floor, getting us an easy basket, crashing the offensive glass every time -- I think it started there -- and then he started making shots."

Jaime Echenique was the other bright spot of the tournament. He notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds against Appalachian State. Marshall hopes to see more from the big man at home.

"It's been very positive. He's a guy who's shown the ability to play well at this level. The beautiful part about him is he's capable of much more. He's just starting to understand how tough he has to be and how he has to compete," he said.

Wichita State (2-3) hosts Rice (3-3) Sunday at 2:00 at Koch Arena. The game will be broadcast on Cox YurView.