Focused and confident, Wichita State has not taken anything for granted during the best start in school history.
The No. 11 Shockers expect to maintain that approach while trying to continue their non-conference home success Sunday night against an experienced North Carolina Central team.
After making an impressive run to the Final Four, Wichita State (11-0) hasn't skipped a beat through the first two months of this season.
Though the Shockers are winning by an average of 16.1 points, two straight and three of their last four contests have been decided by nine or less. They showed their mettle by leaving Alabama with a hard-fought 72-67 victory over the Crimson Tide on Tuesday.
"We think that we're going to win," coach Gregg Marshall said. "You have to believe that you're going to win and you're going to make the plays. You can't go out there with doubt and just hope. I believe these guys have that in their mind."
Alabama shot 47.6 percent in the first half to trail by one at the break and got within one with 1:57 remaining. However, Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet responded with a basket and teammate Darius Carter scored on a putback with 37 seconds left on a possession in which the Shockers rebounded two missed shots.
"The resolve that these young men have is very strong," said Marshall, whose team has allowed only two opponents to reach 70 points.
Wichita State outrebounded the Tide 38-26, outscored them 36-28 in the paint and went 25 of 27 from the free-throw line.
"We are more than proud enough to believe in ourselves and do what we need to do to get the win," said forward Cleanthony Early, who went 7 of 11 from the field and hit all 11 free throws to finish with a season-high 26 points. "We just go out there and try to keep our composure because we practice so hard that when we are out there it's just an open court."
The Shockers can now shift their attention toward earning a 24th consecutive non-conference home victory. However, Marshall doesn't expect things to be easy against North Carolina Central (7-2), which starts three seniors and won 82-72 in overtime at neighboring N.C. State last month.
"We expect a very good game," Marshall said. "(NCCU coach LeVelle Moton is) not afraid. He's confident, he's aggressive.
"In college basketball today you've got to be ready. You have to respect your opponent. You have to play angry. If you don't, you will set yourself up for failure."
The Shockers also must find a way to contain NCCU senior guard Jeremy Ingram, who ranks among the national leaders with 23.2 points per contest. He had 24 on 8-of-13 shooting during the Eagles' 72-66 home win over Winthrop on Wednesday.
Ingram scored 16 off the bench during NCCU's 71-57 loss at Wichita State last season. Ron Baker (14.0 points per game) scored 18 and Early (15.3 ppg) added 10 for the Shockers.
The Eagles have lost all five games they've played against Top 25 opponents by an average of 39.4 points.