Key statistics: The Shockers shot it just well enough (39.7 percent, 32.1 percent from three) to win a defensive, foul-plagued struggle.
Its balanced scoring also played a major role. Five Shockers scored seven or more points and nobody took more than 10 shots.
The Sooners starved for scoring outside of guard Jordan Woodard, who scored 28 points on 10 foul shots and 7-of-17 shooting. The rest of the Sooners shot 13 of 48 (27 percent) from the field. Guard Christian James went 3 for 17.
▪ How the game turned: I can’t write anything more about Daishon Smith’s game-changed dunk. Quite a moment.
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▪ Records: OU 6-3, WSU 9-2
▪ Rotation watch: Shaq Morris departed the arena with his family after the game before the media got a chance to talk to him.
Morris answers a lot of questions about his foul problems, so it’s a bit of a shame he didn’t get to talk after Saturday’s strong effort in his hometown. He played 30 minutes, matching his career high, and scored seven points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked five shots, one off his career high.
Four of those blocks came in the second half and he played a major role in WSU’s decisive run. He blocked shots by James and Darrion Strong-Moore during WSU’s 10-0 run that gave it a 59-50 lead.
“I thought Shaq Morris did a very nice job in his homecoming of protecting the rim,” Marshall said. “He had a number of shot blocks and a tremendous number of altered shots. I thought it was pretty cool.”
Morris and fellow big man Darral Willis held up well against the Sooner front line. Willis scored eight of his 12 points in the first half to help keep the Shockers close in a half in which they turned the ball over nine times. He also grabbed seven rebounds.
“Those blocked shots (by Morris) had everybody hyped, ready to get another stop,” Smith said. “To see him play that hard in front of his home crowd makes us just want to play harder.”
▪ Somebody said this:
▪ Good: Marshall dedicated the win to former Shocker star Cleo Littleton, the program’s career scoring leader, and promised to take the trophy to him.
Marshall told the team after the game that Littleton, who played from 1951-55, wasn’t allowed to stay in an Oklahoma City hotel when the Shockers played in the city. During Littleton’s career, WSU played at Oklahoma City University four times and in the All-College Tournament in OKC in 1954. Saturday’s game was the All-College Classic, one-game heir to those tournaments.
“We’re going to take the trophy back to Mr. Littleton,” Marshall said.
Marshall also made it clear he respects the willingness of Sooners coach Lon Kruger to play the Shockers. WSU added name-brand schools such as Alabama, Tennessee and Utah to its schedule in recent seasons. OU, especially after last season’s Final Four, brings an added level of value when it plays the Shockers on an even basis.
“I’m appreciative of Oklahoma doing this,” Marshall said. “We thought having the opportunity to play this game, for us, was big because of the quality of their program and the respect we have for them.”
Taken in total, Saturday represents a memorable regular-season day for the Shockers. Fans got to make a short drive to watch their team play — and win — against a Big 12 opponent. That’s a rare treat.
There’s no real reason why the Shockers need more validation of what they’ve accomplished. It came from OU, anyway.
▪ Bad: The Shockers are diversified enough on offense that they can survive off nights by a player or three.
However, it’s not ideal for both Landry Shamet and Conner Frankamp to shoot under 40 percent from the field and below 33 percent from three this season.
Shamet, 14 for 44 for the season behind the arc, went 0 for 5 against OU after entering the game 6 for 13 in three previous games. Frankamp, 15 of 46 this season, went 2 for 7 from three and is 6 for 23 in his past five games.
▪ Numbers guy says: WSU got its first big RPI boost moving to No. 66 from No. 107 at warrennolan.com. Its Ken Pomeroy ranking is No. 17, up two spots from after beating Saint Louis. The Shockers are 2-2 against the kenpom.com top 100 with five games remaining against that group (Oklahoma State, Northern Iowa, Illinois State).
In the Big 12, it appears Kansas, Baylor and West Virginia appear to be the top tier of teams. Where the Sooners fit in after those three is key to WSU’s strength of schedule.
After some discussion after the game, WSU confirmed that it will count as a road victory for NCAA’s RPI figuring.
▪ Next up: Oklahoma State (7-2), 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPN3.com) at Intrust Bank Arena
The Cowboys defeated Tulsa 71-67 on Saturday on the road. They won with star guard Jawun Evans on the bench with a shoulder injury and guard Phil Forte limited to three points and 21 minutes by injury.
“Ugly, Ugly, Ugly,” OSU coach Brad Underwood told reporters. “An ugly win. The opening of that game was about what I expected. I should not have tried to play Phil Forte. He and Jawun went down five minutes into practice. Phil is our leader. He is our tough guy. He made a big point to remember last year’s game. He wanted to be apart of it. Anytime that you have major role adjustments, I knew it would be ugly early.”