WICHITA, Kan. — Jaron Pierre Jr. scored eight of his game-high 18 points in the final 3:17 to help Wichita State put away upset-minded Texas Southern, 65-56, Thursday evening at Charles Koch Arena.
James Rojas added 14 points and Jaykwon Walton claimed his third double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for WSU (7-5), which lost starting point guard Craig Porter Jr. to an ankle injury near the 18:00-mark of the second half but found just enough offense to stay afloat.
Davon Barnes (16 points, nine rebounds) and Joirdon Karl Nicholas (12 points, 12 rebounds) did the bulk of the damage for Texas Southern (3-9), the preseason favorite to win the SWAC.
The Shockers led by 16 near the 12:00-mark but missed 12 of their next 13 shots, along with the front-end of three different one-and-one opportunities.
The Tigers capitalized with a 15-2 run. A pair of Kehlin Farooq free throws cut the deficit to 52-49 with 3:27 to go.
WSU finally solved the Tiger press and scored on its next five possessions to restore order. Pierre threw down a contested dunk and hit a step-back jumper to set off a 10-2 run.
The sophomore finished 8-of-13 from the field with three dunks.
Helped by Pierre and Rojas, reserves accounted for 42 of the 65 Shocker points.
WSU made just 2-of-14 threes on the night but outshot the visitors 44.6% to 32.4%.
TSU endured its own cold spell early in the first half when it missed 16 of its first 18 attempts.
The Shockers raced to leads of 14-7 and 22-11. It was 32-22 after Porter beat the halftime horn with a mid-range jumper.
- The Shockers now lead the all-time series with Texas Southern, 5-0.
- WSU has held all five December opponents under 40% from the field.
- Melvion Flanagan made his debut in the starting lineup. He’s the first WSU walk-on to start a game since Wichita Southeast grad Lance Harris during the 2007-08 season. Harris appeared in 20 games with five starts that year and averaged 2.0 points in 11.8 minutes.
Wichita State opens American Athletic Conference play next Wednesday at UCF (6 p.m. CT, ESPN+) then returns home Saturday, Dec. 31 for a New Year’s Eve date with East Carolina (3 p.m. CT, ESPN+).