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.