WICHITA, Kan. – Wichita State clinched a first-round bye and played spoiler in the American Athletic Conference race with a 79-57 victory over Tulsa on Sunday afternoon at a sold-out Charles Koch Arena.
Erik Stevenson scored a team-high 18 points with nine rebounds for the Shockers (23-8, 11-7 American), who finished the regular season in sole possession of fourth-place, helped by Memphis’ loss at Houston earlier in the day.
WSU’s lone senior, Jaime Echenique, also performed well in his home finale, ending with 13 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and career-high four steals. Jamarius Burton added 14 points and a team-high five assists.
Wichita State will open AAC tournament play at 2 p.m. CT on Friday on ESPN2 against the winner of a first-round matchup between No. 5 seed UConn and No. 12 Tulane.
Martins Igbanu scored a game-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting for Tulsa (21-10, 13-5), which missed out on a chance to claim the conference title outright. The Hurricane instead fall all the way to the No. 3 seed line after finishing in a three-way tie for first-place with Cincinnati (No. 1 seed) and Houston (No. 2 seed).
The Shockers managed just 51 points on 6-of-31 three-point shooting in their Feb. 1 loss at Tulsa but hit 11-of-28 threes on their way to 79 points in Sunday’s rematch. WSU shot 47.4 percent as a team
Wichita State scored the first nine points of the game and led by as many as 13 near the 8:00-mark of the first half.
Igbanu hit back-to-back threes to ignite Tulsa, which clawed back to within 29-26 on Jackson’s putback with 1:25 to play in the period.
The Shockers regained momentum over the last 90 seconds. Stevenson drained a long jumper through contract and WSU added three more free throws for a more comfortable 34-26 halftime cushion.
Stevenson took over during a stretch early in the second half, scoring nine-straight points. He twice converted three-point plays on tough transition baskets, then drilled a three to make it 46-29 with 17:04 to play.
Back-to-back baskets from Morris Udeze pushed the lead to 22 and prompted a Tulsa timeout with 11:00 to play.
After the break, Tulsa focused on pounding the ball inside to Igbanu, who scored three layups during a 12-0 Hurricane run. Horne also hit two threes during that stretch, the second of which pulled Tulsa to within 10, 59-49, with 7:56 remaining.
Marshall called a timeout for WSU, which worked to a similar effect. Burton scored the next six points to key an 11-0 Shocker run. After a Wade triple, the lead was right back up to 21 with less than 5:00 to go.
- The Shockers won their eighth-straight over Tulsa in Wichita. The Golden Hurricane’s last victory at the Roundhouse came in 2001.
- WSU leads the all-time series 70-62 (40-23 in Wichita).
- The Shockers’ 17th home win tied the school’s regular season record, set previously in 2009-10 and 2013-14. Both of those teams went 17-0.
- The Shockers head to Fort Worth, Texas to compete in the Air Force Reserve American Athletic Conference Championship inside the brand-new Dickies Arena.
- As the No. 4 seed, Wichita State earns a first-round bye and will play at 2 p.m. on Friday (ESPN2) against the winner of No. 5 seed UConn and No. 12 Tulane.
- WSU played once-each against UConn and Tulane during the regular season.
- On Jan. 12 in Hartford, WSU defeated UConn 89-86 in double-overtime.
- On Feb. 16 in Wichita, the Shockers took down Tulane, 82-57.