Wichita State trailed for the first time this season.
Other than those 51 seconds of unfamiliar territory, not much changed for the Shockers.
WSU (3-0) routed a third opponent, although Wednesday’s 80-53 win over Tulsa at Koch Arena came with a few more challenges.
Wednesday’s box score
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Tulsa (0-2) is big, athletic and unsure how to use those assets after losing nine seniors from an NCAA Tournament team. The Hurricane flashed some nice moments, in between quick shots, bad shots, turnovers and indifferent defense and rebounding.
WSU’s moments went on and on, long enough to start sending fans home with more than four minutes to play and the Shockers up by 23. They had seen it all before – a 46-point win over South Carolina State, a 37-point margin against Long Beach State and Wednesday’s 27-point edge blending into a 120-minute display of depth.
“That’s just the team that we are – we play 10, 12 guys a game,” WSU junior Zach Brown said. “Everybody is going to have a chance to do something big.”
The Shockers won by doing all the difficult things, all the parts of basketball that aren’t necessarily fun and are accomplished in June when nobody’s watching and the glory of the season seems far away. They won with rebounding, passing and holding a defensive stance.
“Work, man,” Brown said. “Bad days, good days. You wouldn’t imagine the hardship that we have to go through, all the times we have to huddle up together as a team and say ‘C’mon, man, this is one of them days we’ve just got to grind out.’ ”
And they won time of possession, letting Tulsa shoot quickly and head back to play defense for 20 seconds or so.
“It’s toughness,” Tulsa coach Frank Haith said. “They’re a lot tougher than us right now.”
Markis McDuffie scored a career-high 18 points off the bench. Darral Willis added 16 and Brown made 3 of 4 threes while scoring 15, one short of his career-high. Interesting, but ultimately unimportant, is a combined 0-for-12 shooting night by guards Conner Frankamp, Landry Shamet and Daishon Smith. They also combined for seven assists and two turnovers, helping the Shockers hand out 20 assists on their 27 baskets.
WSU’s bench, led by McDuffie, scored 52 points and came within a point of outscoring the opponent for a third game. Against South Carolina State and Long Beach State, WSU’s reserves outscored its opponents, starters included, 99-94.
“We’ve got like 12 starters,” Willis said.
The Shockers outrebounded Tulsa 52-30, 15-5 on the offensive boards. They made 20 of 26 free throws, to outscore Tulsa by nine points at the line.
“Rebounding and how hard you have to play, with young kids, is the hardest thing to get across,” Haith said. “They wore us out on the glass.”
Tulsa made 18 of 54 shots (33.3 percent) and 6 of 22 three-pointers. Pat Birt led the Hurricane with 17 points. Corey Henderson Jr., who played one season at WSU, added nine.
Back to those 51 seconds WSU trailed.
A Birt foul shot gave Tulsa a 3-2 lead.
That development didn’t hold.
The Shockers ran off nine points and the Hurricane missed their next five shots to put WSU up 11-3.
That’s the way the first half unfolded.
Tulsa scored some, not because of a plan, but because it kept shooting. The officials called fouls. Then some more fouls.
And then Wichita State went on a run, helped by Tulsa’s desire to shoot quickly.
Tulsa closed to within 23-20. The Shockers, starting with a Willis basket, went on a 14-2 run on its way to a 44-30 halftime lead.
WSU outscored Tulsa 13-4 at the line in the first half. McDuffie scored 12 points, going 8 of 9 from the line. WSU out-rebounded Tulsa 30-12 in the first half, eight to one on the offensive boards.
WSU’s 16-0 run midway through the second half pumped the lead to 71-43 on a three-pointer by Brown.