Saturday’s box score
Wichita State 71,
Southern Miss 61
Percentages: FG .360, FT .615. 3-Point Goals: 7-19, .368 (Brooks 4-6, Watson 3-7, Jenkins 0-2, Davis 0-4). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 2 (Carey, Boardingham). Turnovers: 16 (Watson 3, Davis 2, Mills 2, Craig 2, Brooks 2, Carey 2, McGill, Boardingham). Steals: 9 (Boardingham 3, Mills 2, Craig 2, Davis, Carey). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .380, FT .680. 3-Point Goals: 4-19, .211 (Wiggins 2-2, Williams 2-9, Cotton 0-1, Van Vleet 0-2, Armstead 0-2, Early 0-3). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 8 (Early 3, Orukpe 3, Lufile, Cotton). Turnovers: 19 (Van Vleet 5, Cotton 4, Williams 4, Orukpe 3, Early, Lufile, Armstead). Steals: 8 (Cotton 3, Armstead 3, Van Vleet, Williams). Technical Fouls: Armstead.
Att.–9,619. Officials–Gerry Pollard, Zelton Steed, Terry Davis.
Guards Demetric Williams and Tekele Cotton combined for eight turnovers and 11 missed shots, usually enough to ruin a game.
After Saturday’s win, nobody remembered those mistakes. Williams, a senior, and Cotton, a sophomore, led a fierce and physical defensive effort. Any lazy pass, they deflected. Any unwary dribbler, they attacked. Any loose ball, they pursued.
“They really changed the game for us,” forward Nick Wiggins said. “Those are our two best defenders and they really get us going on defense.”
Williams grabbed six rebounds and a steal. Cotton, playing with a bone bruise in his ankle, recorded three steals and four rebounds. He knocked a ball loose that led to Williams’ layup that cut the Golden Eagles’ lead to 47-46. In the final minute, he preserved WSU’s 55-51 lead by blocking shot in the lane by Dwayne Davis.
“He got so many deflections and steals when they were trying to initiate their offense,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “I just thought he and Demetric were warriors.”
Marshall challenged fans to get rowdy, all the while playing that game with house money. He knows the makeup of the crowd at Intrust Bank Arena lends itself to noise.
He was right. In the second half, with plenty of drama and enough big plays, the crowd roared. Many fans stood for most of the half.
“That’s why I love playing down here,” he said. “We needed the boost from the crowd and they certainly gave it.”
WSU is 3-0 at Intrust Bank Arena, defeating Tulsa (2010) and Alabama-Birmingham (2011). Last season’s game and Saturday’s were not included in the season-ticket package, perhaps giving some fans a chance to sit closer to the action.
“The people that buy the tickets here, really want to be here and they love to get noisy and help this team,” Marshall said. “All three years, it’s been like that.”
WSU senior Malcolm Armstead isn’t exactly sure what actions or words earned him a technical foul in the second half. He does say he knows he must be more careful in the future.
For the second time in three games, Armstead hurt the Shockers by drawing the attention of an official. Saturday, the technical slowed WSU’s rally and gave the crowd a reason to sit. His layup, after a steal by Tekele Cotton, cut Southern Mississippi’s lead to 33-25 and completed a 6-0 run.
“I don’t know what he T’d me up for,” Armstead said. “I guess I looked at him and I was like, ‘Yes sir, let’s go.’ I guess he thought I was talking to the player.”
Armstead also got a technical in the first half of a 69-60 loss at Tennessee. That foul led to a four-point possession for the Volunteers and sent Armstead to the bench with his second foul.
Saturday’s foul also cost Armstead playing time at a point when his team needed him. With three fouls, he came out of the game with 16:20 remaining and returned with 10:25 to play.
“It’s on me,” he said. “That’s something I have to control. I just got caught up in the game. I was just having fun.”
Marshall lectured Armstead on the bench.
“It’s been addressed and it will be further addressed,” Marshall said. “He’s not doing a whole lot, but he doesn’t understand that it’s enough.”
• WSU out-rebounded the Eagles 44-26, its largest margin of the season. The Eagles entered the game out-rebounding opponents by six a game, tops in Conference USA.
• Williams scored 17 points, missing his career-high (set against DePaul) by one. Wiggins is averaging 9.2 points and is 8 of 13 from three-point range in the past four games.
— Paul Suellentrop