Editor's note: This story originally was published on Feb. 3, 1984.
Nolan Richardson knew this much: He didn’t want Aubrey Sherrod touching the basketball.
So the Tulsa coach threw up a a blanket in the form of Steve Harris as Wichita State played for the final shot of a tense Missouri Valley Conference game in Henry Levitt Arena.
Tulsa accomplished its mission: Sherrod didn’t get the ball. But the Hurricane forgot about defensing the man with the basketball, Karl Papke.
The lanky Papke slithered through the Tulsa zone with eight seconds left and threw down a banking hook shot to beat the No. 11 Hurricane 68-64 as a standing-room-only crowd of 10,666 went beserk.
“He made a helluva shot,” marveled Richardson, whose team lost for only the second time in 19 games. “I’d like to see him shoot that shot five or six times a night.”
Said WSU coach Gene Smithson, whose team beat archrival Tulsa for the third straight time, “It just happened that they stayed in place and Karl was wise. He showed his experience and went to the hole.
“It was a great bucket.”
The victory, WSU’s fourth straight, boosted the Shockers into third place in the conference at 6-3. With their seventh triumph in the last eight games, the Shockers improved to 12-6 overall.
Tulsa dropped to 6-2 in the Valley, leaving idle Illinois State at 6-1.
Certainly with eight seconds left, Tulsa had ample time to get the game into overtime. Richardson called timeout to set up a play, but WSU’s full-court pressure forced Tulsa into a shot Richardson didn’t want.
He wanted either Harris, who pumped home a game-high 28 points, or Ricky Ross taking the final shot. But Ross was forced to pass when he was trapped in the backcout near the sidelines, and the ball ended up in the hands of Vince Williams.
Williams is noted for his defense, and his running 18-footer clanked off the backboard and fell harmlessly to the floor as time expired. It was the only shot in the game Williams took.
For Papke, who spent all abut 17 minutes of the game on the bench in foul trouble, the winning bucket was sweet revenge. He was snubbed in pre-game introductions by an old nemesis from high school, Ross.
Ross, who scored 15 points, but shot a dismal four of 13, walked away from Papke as Papke went out to shake hands.
“I think that fired us up,” said Sherrod, another high school opponent of Ross’. That was some unsportsmanlike conduct on Ricky’s part. He just went to the other end, but all their other players shook our hands.
“It was embarrassing for him,” said Sherrod, who scored 17 points. “And the fact they lost was even more embarrassing for him.”
If Ross’ antics motivated WSU, it wasn’t apparent at the start. The Hurricane bolted to a 13-4 lead before the Shockers knew what hit them.
But with Xavier McDaniel scoring 15 of his 21 points, the Shockers managed to climb back into the contest and tied matters at halftime 33-33.
Tulsa got the jump on WSU the outset of the final period, opening a six-point margin. but the Shockers reeled off 10 straight points to grab a 49-45 lead.
It was during that stretch that WSU switched into a 2-3 zone defense. It was just what Richardson wanted.
“I was glad to see them go to the zone,” he said. “I thought they were playing right into ou hands.”
On most nights this season, Tulsa has shot holes in zone defenses. But this time, the Hurricane made a dismal 37.9-percent of their shots.
“It turned out thtat it went the other way against us,” Richardson said of the zone.
“The Shockers built a 60-53 lead wtih 5:44 to play, only to have Bruce Vanley and Harris bring the Hurricane storming back. Vanley scored six of his 13 points in the final five minutes, his last bucket a powerful slam dunk that tied the game 64-64 with 47 seconds to play.
With Tulsa out of the way, Smithson said the Shockers can now turn their attention to Sunday’s historic match with Kansas.
“We’ll get on that tomorrow,” he said. “We haven’t even thought much about that. We don’t have much time to celebrate.”