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Big First Half Propels Shockers Past Tulsa

WSU Athletics ReleaseDecember 15, 2020

TULSA, Okla. — Wichita State built a big lead early then made just enough plays to hang onto it in a 69-65 road win over Tulsa on Tuesday night at the Reynolds Center.

Ricky Council IV and Alterique Gilbert scored 13 points apiece for the Shockers (2-2, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) who led by 17 points late in the first half but were sweating in the final 30 seconds after the host Golden Hurricanes pulled to within two.

Brandon Rachal’s 17 points and 11 rebounds paced Tulsa (1-3, 0-1), which was playing for the first time in 10 days after hitting the pause button last week.

Wichita State improved to 6-4 all-time at the Reynolds Center and defeated Tulsa for the sixth time in seven AAC era meetings.

No fans were allowed in attendance.

Gilbert posted his fourth straight double-figure scoring game to go with four assists and two steals in 32 turnover-free minutes.

It was a breakthrough performance from Council – a 6-6 freshman guard — who narrowly missed a double-double with 13 points and eight rebounds in just 16 minutes of action.

Trey Wade added 11 points and seven rebounds, and Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler chipped in a season-high 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.

Junior guard Craig Porter Jr. made a splash in his first extended run. The Vincennes (Ind.) transfer missed the first two games and clocked less than five minutes against Oklahoma State but played in crunch-time at Tulsa, ending with four points, six rebounds and five assists in 25 minutes.

Wichita State committed just nine turnovers and out-rebounded Tulsa 42-37.

Eight different Shockers hit a three in a 10-for-26 performance. WSU shot 41 percent from the field but made just 9-of-17 free throws.

Tulsa shot 41.8 percent from the field but connected on only 8-of-31 three-point tries (.258) and 11-of-21 free throws (.524).

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FIRST HALF:

The Shockers took advantage of hot shooting and Tulsa’s early miscues to pull away quickly.

WSU scored on its first three possessions for a 7-0 lead after just 90 seconds. Back-to-back threes from Dexter Dennis and Clarence Jackson upped the margin to 15-4.

Tulsa had nearly as many turnovers (6) as field goal attempts (7) in the first five minutes.

The Golden Hurricane eventually got on track with three-point shooting.

WSU lost two starters to foul trouble midway through the half (Morris Udeze and leading scorer Tyson Etienne), and the Golden Hurricane eventually found some offensive rhythm with their perimeter shooting.

WSU’s bench supplied just five points in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State. On Tuesday that same unit was a source of strength. The Shocker bench outscored their Tulsa counterparts 33-14 for the night.

Two of those reserves, Council and Poor Bear-Chandler, combined to score the final 17 Shocker points over the last 7:00 of the first half.

That included a 10-0 run after Tulsa had closed to within seven at the 3:30-mark.

Council’s transition layup made it a 43-26 game with 1:33 to play in the half, and it appeared the Shockers were on their way to an easy victory.

WSU was 7-of-14 from three in the first half and committed just two turnovers.

Tulsa cut the lead to 14, 43-29, heading into the half on Rachal’s three-point play.

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SECOND HALF:

The hosts continued the momentum with a 16-4 push to start the second half. Curtis Haywood II’s three-pointer made it a 47-45 game with still 14:35 to play.

WSU buckled down defensively, holding Tulsa without a field goal for nearly five more minutes.

Council and Wade dunked on back-to-back possessions and Council nailed a tough baseline jumper to push the lead back out to nine near the midway point of the half.

The Shockers made too many mistakes to pull away but just enough big plays to keep the Hurricanes at bay.

Gilbert made consecutive jumpers over a 60-second span to push a three-point lead back to eight, 63-55, with 7:04 left.

Tulsa closed it to five near the 4:00-mark, but Porter picked an excellent time for his first Division I basket. A step-back three appeared to ice the game with 3:40 to go and the Shockers ahead 66-58.

Tulsa reeled off seven of the next eight points.

The teams were both 3-for-7 at the foul line over the final two-and-a-half minutes.

Tulsa’s Keyshawn Embery-Simpson had a three-pointer in the air that would have tied the game with 10 seconds to go. It missed. Etienne’s free throw iced the game and provided the final margin.

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NOTABLE:

  • Wichita State is 1-0 in AAC play for the third time in four years.
  • The Shockers have won 14 of their last 16 against Tulsa dating back to 2003.
  • WSU extends its all-time series lead to 71-62 (30-36 in Tulsa).
  • WSU is 88-28 on the road since the start of the 2010-11 season.

Copyright © Meridian Media, 2021. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.

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