Shockers secure first double-digit win of the season in victory over Tarleton State


Photo by Monique Gaines / The Sunflower

Morris Udeze looks to dunk the ball during the game against Tarleton State on Nov. 16 inside Charles Koch Arena.

After two straight close games to open up the season, Wichita State had some breathing room down the stretch for the first time this season, defeating Tarleton State, 65-51.

The Shockers held their first halftime lead of the season, 29-22, but the offensive struggles in the first 20 minutes remained. WSU shot a season-low 32% from the field in the first half but a great defensive performance carried the Shockers throughout the night.

WSU forced 14 turnovers, including five shot clock violations, picking up the struggling offense. The Shockers also outscored TSU 13-4 in points off turnovers.

“I felt all the players did a great job of understanding the scouting report,” head coach Isaac Brown said. “We wanted to get in lanes and we wanted to switch all ball screens. I felt we did a great job of contesting shots and not giving up second shots.”

The Shockers responded with a much stronger second half performance on offense, shooting 52.2% from the field and going 5-11 on three-pointers. Brown said the key to the offensive turnaround was their ability to knock down open shots from deep.

“I think anytime you can see the ball go through the net, I think that gives you confidence,” Brown said. “Now those guys know we can make shots, when we take good shots and drive the basketball, try to create for a teammate. We’ve got to do that to beat these teams.”

WSU dominated in the second half, in large part due to their size advantage over TSU, who played five guards. After struggling to find a rhythm in the first half, starting center Morris Udeze scored 11 of his 15 points after the halftime break. Udeze’s 15 points were a season-high, which he said was much needed after the slow start.

“I kind of felt that I was forcing it in the first two games but I calmed down in the second half, letting the game come to me,” Udeze said. “I felt that I was going out there and just forcing it so then I just calmed down in the second half, Monzy was just finding me.”

Brown challenged Udeze and other bigs to take advantage of their size in the second half. WSU outscored TSU 20-18 in points in the paint, as a result.

“We can’t play on the perimeter all night,” Brown said. “I told those guys we’ve got to start scoring in the paint.”

Although Clarence Jackson’s statline didn’t jump off the page, his energy helped turn the tide in the second half. Jackson tallied five points, four rebounds and two assists, but most importantly helped keep multiple plays alive with his rebounding on the offensive glass.

“Clarence Jackson has won so many games for us, with just his energy,” Brown said. “It seems like when we don’t have energy and we sub him in the game, it energizes everybody on our team.”

WSU was without star guard Tyson Etienne for the game, as he continued to deal with an illness. Etienne came off the bench in Saturday’s game against South Alabama, but tonight was the first time he’s missed a game during his WSU career. With the absence of Etienne, the Shockers needed the supporting cast to step up. 

Freshman Chaunce Jenkins was called upon for the first time this season to help fill the void, scoring five points off the bench, including an electrifying dunk. Jenkins has waited his turn as a Shocker and his patience paid off with his first playing time of the season.

“I just keep my faith, listen to my camp around me,” Jenkins said. “I’ve got a great support system and I’m just going to keep working. I knew an opportunity was going to come and I had confidence when I stepped out there.”

The Shockers are set to enter their toughest stretch of the season thus far, with the Roman Main Event in Las Vegas, Nevada this weekend. WSU will take on Arizona in the quarterfinals on Friday at 9 p.m.

“I’m excited about the challenge,” Brown said. “These tournaments are big time, they can definitely help you get into the NCAA Tournament with some quality wins. Arizona’s a quality basketball team. We’ve got to play well in order to win these games.”