Gus Goes Off; Shockers Defeat Tarleton

WICHITA, Kan. — Gus Okafor busted loose for 27 points to help Wichita State fend off Tarleton State, 83-71, and put an end to a dubious shooting streak.

Okafor, a graduate transfer from Southeastern Louisiana, averaged less than five points in his first five games as a Shocker before Saturday’s break-through performance in which he made 9-of-11 shots from the field and grabbed eight rebounds.

The Shockers (4-2) likewise found the cure for their offensive ailments, sinking 24-of-50 (.540) field goal attempts to break the 50-percent barrier for the first time in 48 games. WSU last made more than half of its shots in a Jan. 2, 2021 road win at Ole Miss when it finished at 52 percent.

Kenny Pohto added 13 points and nine rebounds to go with Craig Porter Jr.’s 11 points and career-high five blocks.

Jakorie Smith put up 19 points for Tarleton (3-3), which was coming off a win over Boston College in last weekend’s Paradise Jam.

WSU cashed in 24-of-29 free throws to Tarleton’s 15-of-18.

The Shockers lost the turnover battle 12-5 but outrebounded the smaller Texans 40-29 and held them to 36.8 percent from the field.

WSU created separation midway through the first half with a 7-0 run, fueled entirely by Okafor. Over a span of 43 seconds he tallied a three-pointer, a transition layup and a stick-back to give the Shockers a 27-19 lead.

Okafor scored the last of his 14 first-half points on a tip-dunk ahead of the buzzer as WSU took a 44-32 edge into the intermission.

The Shockers led by as many as 17 points early in the second half.

Tarleton closed the gap to seven with 1:20 to go, but Okafor answered with a timely alley-oop slam.