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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Men’s basketball return to winning ways against Tulsa

The Wichita State men’s basketball team played strong defense and scored at the rim repeatedly en route to a 79-63 win against the University of Tulsa on Wednesday night in front of a home crowd.

The Shockers improved to 11-16 this season and are 3-11 in the American Athletic Conference. Tulsa fell to 4-10 in conference play.

The Shockers were cold from the field to begin the game. Wichita State shot 0/6 from beyond the arc until redshirt junior guard Colby Rogers drained a 3-pointer with 8:15 left in the half. 

Despite its poor shooting, Wichita State led 23-16 after Rogers’ three due to 14 points in the paint, eight of which came from junior forward Kenny Pohto.

In the last five minutes of the half, Tulsa did not make a field goal, aiding as the Shockers went on a 14-1 run to lead 43-26. The Golden Hurricane had 13 turnovers in the first period.

The Shockers ran its lead out to 21, 53-32, after a 6-0 run in the second half. The stifling Wichita State defense continually forced Tulsa into contested shots and turnovers that led to layups at the other end.

Tulsa’s full-court press defense seemed to speed up the Shockers, who committed three turnovers in two minutes without scoring a basket; however, Tulsa was unable to capitalize at the other end, only scoring four points during the same span with 10 minutes left.

The remainder of the second half went without drama. Tulsa never cut the Shocker lead below 15 points in the final 10 minutes of the game.

Wichita State attempted only two 3-pointers in the second half, both in the final two minutes, after going 2/11 from beyond the arc in the first period. Tulsa shot a miserable 2/20 from deep in the game. 

The Shockers disrupted Tulsa passing lanes all game and swiped at the ball, ending with 15 team steals, a season-high for the team.

Head coach Paul Mills said the Shockers played with good defensive intensity, getting after loose balls and using their length.

“I thought early that their basketball got a little bit easy to the paint,” Mills said. “I thought after that 16-minute-mark … there was more of an intentionality about making sure that we clamped that down.”

Wichita State had a balanced offensive attack, with six players scoring at least eight points. Rogers led the way with 19, but Pohto stole the show with 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Pohto said the team had more effort in this game than in previous losses.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Pohto said. “We’ve been working really hard, and we’re going to win the next games coming up.”

On his weekly radio show on Monday, Mills said the team had a meeting on Monday to air out frustrations after a three-game losing streak.

“It was just an honest conversation I think we needed to have, especially with the conference tournament right around the corner,” junior guard Xavier Bell said. “Just making sure we’re on the same page to go out there and give it our best shot.”

Men’s basketball returns to Charles Koch Arena on Sunday, Feb. 25, to take on Temple. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Jacob Unruh, Assistant Sports Editor
Jacob Unruh is the assistant sports editor for The Sunflower. He is a junior at Wichita State, majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. This is Unruh's first year on staff. He goes by he/him pronouns.
Kristy Mace, Photo Editor
Kristy Mace is the photo editor for The Sunflower. She's majoring in psychology. Currently a junior, Mace hopes to go on to get her Ph.D. and become a neuropsychologist. She also plays for Wichita State's bowling team and does professional photography aside from The Sunflower.

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