WICHITA, Kan. — Dexter Dennis provided the signature play in Wichita State’s long-awaited signature win, 68-63 over No. 6 Houston, Thursday evening at Charles Koch Arena.
Tyson Etienne and Alterique Gilbert scored 16-points each for WSU (13-4, 9-2) which moved into sole possession of first-place in the American Athletic Conference standings and notched its best home win since downing No. 2-ranked Louisville on Feb. 25, 1967.
Dennis tallied 12 points, six rebounds and two steals – the last with WSU clinging to a one-point lead in the final 20 seconds.
DeJon Jarreau paced Houston (17-3, 11-3) with 16 points to go with 13 from Quentin Grimes and 10 from Justin Gorham.
Beating Houston (No. 5 in the latest NCAA NET ratings) provides some juice for the Shockers’ postseason resume. They’re 2-2 in Quadrant-1 games, having also won last month at No. 53 Ole Miss.
The Shockers made 10-of-22 three-point attempts (.455) and out-rebounded Houston, 35-33.
Both were significant turns.
The Cougars came in leading the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense (.255) and ranked fifth in rebounding margin (+10.1).
The Shockers also outscored the visitors 18-5 off of free throws.
WSU trailed by as many as 12 points at the 5:37-mark of the first half but made seven-straight three-point attempts over the next eight minutes. Gilbert buried the last for a 10-point advantage, 44-34, with 16:57 to play in the game.
Houston rallied to within a possession on six-different occasions, including a last gasp came with 21 seconds on the clock when Grimes banked in a three to make it a 64-63 game.
Etienne missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Shockers fans (2,625 of them) held their collective breath as Houston prepared for a potential game-winning shot with the clock ticking inside of 15 seconds.
It never came.
Dennis swooped near the timeline to intercept a Jarreau pass and absorbed a hard flagrant-1 foul from Houston’s Gorham on a breakaway layup.
Dennis’ pain was the Shockers’ gain. He made both free throws, and the Shockers retained possession. Etienne added two more for the final margin.
- WSU improved to 8-1 in games decided by five-points-or-less.
- Those eight wins are tied with Chattanooga for the national lead.
- Those eight wins are also the most by a Shocker team in the modern era (1945-pr.) and one shy of the program’s all-time record (9; 1930-31).
- WSU defeated a top-25 opponent for the first since Jan. 9, 2020 when it downed No. 21 Memphis at the Roundhouse.
- WSU defeated a top-10 opponent for the first time in exactly three years (Feb. 18, 2018 at No. 5 Cincinnati).
- WSU is an impressive 13-13 at the Roundhouse (1955-pr.) against AP top-10 teams.
- WSU is 39-43 all-time in home games against top-25 opponents with wins in nine of their last 11.
- WSU is 7-2 against AP top-25 opponents at Charles Koch Arena since its 2003 renovation.
- The Shockers have won five-straight games, matching their season-high. It was their 12th win in 14 tries.
- WSU extended its home winning streak to eight games and has won 10-straight conference contests at Charles Koch Arena, going back to last February.
- WSU snapped a six-game losing streak against Houston and now have an 18-15 lead in the all-time series (13-3 in Wichita).
- Morris Udeze set a new career-high with five blocks.
- WSU played with just one point guard (Gilbert). Back-up point guard Craig Porter missed the game due to illness and third-string option Trevin Wade was sidelined by a nagging injury.
The Shockers welcome SMU to Charles Koch Arena on Thursday, Feb. 25. The 6 p.m. CT tipoff will air nationally on either ESPN or ESPN2.