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NCAA Tournament: Tekele Cotton will have hands full with Pangos, Bell

Published March 22, 2013 3:53 pm

Wichita State • He's looking forward to trying to stop Zags' 3-point shooters.
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After chasing Pitt star Tray Woodall around the floor at EnergySolutions Arena Thursday, handcuffing one of the Big East's most dynamic players, Wichita State's Tekele Cotton has an even bigger job Saturday.

Hounding Kevin Pangos. Hounding Gary Bell Jr. Hounding those Gonzaga 3-point shooters that surround the talented interior tandem of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris.

The sophomore from Marrieta, Ga., said he enjoys his job, and if that means harassing the opponent's best player, he'll accept the challenge from coach Gregg Marshall.

"I look forward to being that guy," he said.

Standing at 6-foot-2, and weighing in at more than 200 pounds, Cotton is physical and has the athleticism to pester point guards and sharpshooting guards who like to weave around screens.

He'll have his hands full with Pangos and Bell Jr., a pair of sophomores, who have combined to hit 130 3-pointers this season. While the focus no doubt starts with Olynyk and Harris every game, those two get a variety of open looks.

"We have to make them work for everything," Marshall said. "They're going to score."

But Cotton is the wild card. If he can stay attached to the hip of Pangos and Bell Jr., and disrupt passing lanes and provide the ball pressure he typically does, the Shockers would be forcing the talented frontcourt of Olynyk and Harris to make shots.

"Tekele is a tremendous, tremendous athlete, and he dedicates himself with energy and toughness on the defensive end," Marshall said.

Cotton shrugged when asked about his role on a team taking on the No. 1 seed in the West region.

"I have no problem with it," he said. "I enjoy it."

ckamrani@sltrib.comTwitter: @chriskamrani