Points: Rojas (19), Pierre (15), Porter (15), Walton (14)
Rebounds: Porter (7), Rojas (6)
Assists: Porter (7), Walton (6)
Blocks: Poor Bear-Chandler (4)
Steals: Porter (5), Pohto (2), Rojas (2)
MBB: SHOCKER CAN’T KEEP PACE WITH MEMPHIS
James Rojas’ torrid start and Jaron Pierre Jr.’s second-half binge weren’t to get Wichita State over the hump in an 83-78 loss to Memphis Thursday evening at Charles Koch Arena.
Neither side led by more than seven points in a game that featured 16 lead changes.
The Shockers (14-13, 7-8) fell to 2-6 in American Athletic Conference home games.
Star point guard Kendric Davis returned from a one-game injury absence with 19 points to help Memphis (21-7, 11-4) post its sixth consecutive series win. DeAndre Williams added 18 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
The Tigers shot 54.7% from the field – a season-best for a WSU foe. They were 9-of-19 from three and outscored the Shockers 16-8 at the foul line.
WSU made just 6-of-27 from deep but piled up 48 points in the paint thanks to a 20-of-34 performance from inside the arc. The Shockers also enjoyed a 14-7 edge in turnovers.
Jaykwon Walton made 7-of-11 shots on his way to 14 points. He played all 40 minutes and matched his career-high with six assists.
Craig Porter Jr. accounted for five of WSU’s 12 steals while stuffing the stat sheet with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 36 turnover-free minutes.
Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler set a personal-best of his own with four blocks in just 12 minutes of action.
Rojas converted all seven of his field goal attempts in a 19-point first half but took just one shot the rest of the way while battling foul trouble and a slew of double teams.
Pierre picked up the slack, scoring all 15 of his points over the final 12:00. He made three second-half triples – the last with 8:17 to play – to give WSU a 62-61 lead.
Memphis responded with back-to-back threes from Jonathan Lawson and Damaria Franklin to regain the upper hand. Williams’ basket capped an 8-0 run that made it 69-62 Tigers with less than 6:00 left.
The Shockers clawed back to within a pair late. Porter flipped in a runner and sank two free throws to thin the margin to 74-72 at the 1:42-mark.
Again the freshman Lawson came through with a big a shot. His trey with 1:14 on the clock made it a two-possession game.
The Shockers came up empty on their next two trips before resorting to fouls.
- Porter has recorded at least six assists in each of the last five games. That’s the longest such streak by a WSU player since the 1995-96 season when Melvin McKey did it in each of the last five games of his Shocker career.
- According to numbers pulled from college basketball reference’s play index, Craig Porter Jr. is only the second player in AAC history to finish with at least five steals, seven assists and zero turnovers in a game. Kendric Davis was the other. He finished with 13 assists and six steals in a Dec. 2, 2020 win over Houston Christian.
- Rojas’ 7-for-7 effort tied for the best first-half shooting performance by a Shocker in the last 25 years. Trey Wade was also 7-for-7 in the first half of a February, 2020 game against Temple.
- Over the past two seasons, Memphis has shot better than 50% in all four games against WSU. Shocker opponents have topped 50% just two other times in that span (49 games).
The Shockers are at Tulane on Sunday (2 p.m. CT, ESPNU) and travel to No. 1 Houston next Thursday (6 p.m. CT, ESPN2) before closing out the regular season at home against South Florida on Sunday, Mar. 5 (1 p.m. CT, ESPNU).