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Wichita State turns up defense, beats Tulsa 77-67

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011, at 9:20 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, at 7:13 a.m.

Photos

Shocker report

On the block

Wichita State center Ehimen Orukpe played the nine most important minutes of his career. He bailed out the Shockers when foul trouble benched starters Carl Hall and Garrett Stutz in the second half.

Orukpe, a junior, presented an obstacle in the back of the WSU zone. He blocked two shots, spiking one like a volleyball into the ground. He wasn’t credited with a rebound, but he kept some balls alive to deny Tulsa possession.

“He didn’t do anything but clog the middle,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “It was valuable minutes.”

Stutz picked up his fourth foul with 11:50 to play. Hall got his with 8:31 remaining. That put the burden on Orukpe to produce in a pressure situation.

“I’m trying to work my way into games and get my opportunities and make the most of them,” he said.

Smith sizzles again

Shocker shooter Ben Smith cooled off after the trip to Puerto Rico. He returned as a dangerous weapon on Wednesday.

Smith made 3 of 5 three-pointers and scored 11 points. His three at the end of the first half cut Tulsa’s lead to 41-37. He made two more in the final 3:37 of the game to stretch WSU’s lead.

Smith went 1 of 7 from three-point range in WSU’s previous three games.

“My teammates always pick me up and tell me I can shoot,” he said. “I just have to have confidence when I shoot the ball.”

Learning curve

It’s been a rough season for Tulsa, which lost its fourth straight and second straight at home.

The five previous losses came by five points or fewer. Like the other losses, Tulsa had its chances late in the game.

“For 35 minutes, we played well,” Tulsa guard Scottie Haralson said. “We didn’t have the composure at the end that we needed.”

Coach Doug Wojcik agreed. Tulsa shot the ball well in the first half. It got Stutz in foul trouble. It led by seven points early in the second half.

“We did a great job against them for a long time,” he said. “The last five minutes of the game, we didn’t execute enough. We turned it over at critical times.”

The Hurricane starts two seniors, but WSU exposed its inexperienced guards. Tim Peete, a sophomore, committed both his turnovers in the second half. Point guard Jordan Clarkson, also a sophomore, went 2 for 8 from the field in the second half.

Worth noting

WSU won its fourth straight in the series, which resumed last season after a five-season break. It is WSU’s longest streak since it won six straight starting in the 1986-87 season. The Shockers took a 61-60 series lead.æ.æ.æ. The 10-point margin of defeat is the largest of the season for Tulsa.æ.æ.æ. Hall scored 11 points and made 4 of 7 shots. He is 22 of 30 from the field in his past four games.

_ Paul Suellentrop

TULSA — Let there be no question that allowing 41 points in a half is way too many for Wichita State's taste.

The Shockers reacted as a veteran team should, with a defensive lockdown in the second half to defeat Tulsa 77-67 on Wednesday at the Reynolds Center.

"We were more active in the second half," WSU guard David Kyles said. "We were relaxed on defense in the first half. We figured we would turn it up in the second half on defense, and it worked out for the best."

The Shockers (6-2) voiced their frustrations to each other at halftime regarding the lack of defense. Tulsa (4-6) made half its shots in the first half and 6 of 10 three-pointers. WSU led the rebounding battle by one, but didn't grab an offensive board.

None of that works for WSU.

"Forty-one in a half — that's not good defense," WSU coach Gregg Marshall said.

Marshall reached into his playbook for the second half. The Shockers upped the pressure on their full-court press. They played a matchup zone for long stretches. Both did their jobs. The press forced Tulsa to eat away at the shot clock getting the ball across the time line. The zone made the Hurricane players hesitant, turning them into thinkers instead of free-flowing players. It also helped the Shockers survive foul trouble which put Garrett Stutz and Carl Hall on the bench.

"It was a good changeup by their coaching staff," Tulsa guard Jordan Clarkson said. "It took us out of our offensive flow."

Tulsa led 51-43 when WSU's defense began to take control. The Hurricane didn't make a shot from the floor for almost seven minutes, allowing the Shockers to grab 57-56 lead. Tulsa missed six straight shots and committed three turnovers to spark WSU's 13-6 run.

"We were pressuring the guards and making it hard for them to get up court," WSU guard Toure Murry said. "When they get past half court, they've got about 17-18 seconds left, and they've got to take a tough shot."

While Marshall doesn't use the zone a lot — senior Ben Smith estimates about 15 percent of the time — it is something WSU practices regularly.

"They shot it so well in the first half, we needed a change of pace," Marshall said. "Guys had a lot of energy, didn't lose shooters but once or twice."

WSU saved its three-point shooting for the final minutes. A long three by David Kyles, curling off a screen, gave the Shockers a 63-59 lead with 6:16 to play. Ben Smith made one for a 69-63 lead with 3:37 remaining. Smith made another with 1:46 to play, to make it 74-66.

Murry didn't make a three. He did everything else in the second half to carry the Shockers. He scored 10 of his 17 points after halftime and handed out three assists without a turnover.

Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik called Murry's three-point play with 8:19 remaining a turning point. It put WSU up 60-58. Murry again scored and drew a foul with 4:21 to play. His free throw made it 66-60.

"He just drove us," Wojcik said. "The one critical play... we just didn't come across and take the charge."

Foul trouble hurt both teams. WSU got the better end of it by making 23 of 28 free throws. Murry made 7 of 8. Tulsa made 13 of 23.

Clarkson and Haralson led Tulsa with 18 points apiece.

Check Paul Suellentrop's Shocker blog at blogs.kansas.com/shockwaves. Reach him at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com.

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