Shockers beat UAB

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Phil Thomasson had team highs of 15 points and seven rebounds as Wichita State held off an Alabama-Birmingham rally to win 61-52 Saturday night at Koch Arena.

Matt Braeuer added 12 for the Shockers (7-4), while UAB (8-5) was led by Robert Vaden's game-high 23 points.

Already up 11 at halftime, Wichita State pushed its lead to 15 in the second half's first five minutes, helped by five points from Mantas Griskenas. His three and two free throws gave the Shockers a 42-27 advantage.

Four minutes later, WSU's Phil Thomasson scored all seven points of a 7-2 run that gave the Shockers a 49-33 lead, their biggest of the night.

WSU's biggest issue was frontcourt foul trouble. With eight minutes remaining, Aaron Ellis had fouled out while Griskenas and leading scorer P.J. Couisnard each had four.

The Blazers took advantage and made a run, predictably led by Vaden. Coming off a 33-point game at Kentucky and second nationally in three-pointers made entering Saturday, Vaden scored 12 points in a 15-2 run that cut WSU's lead to 51-48 with 4:35 to play.

Vaden's final six points came on deep, contested threes. But his hot hand was not in the game much longer. In a 60-second span, Vaden picked up his fourth and fifth fouls while running into a back pick and charging after an offensive rebound.

He finished 5 of 13 from the three-point line.

After Vaden fouled out, Couisnard hit a deep three-pointer to regain momentum for WSU and Gal Mekel sank a trey to build the lead back to 59-50 with 1:20 remaining.

A five-point possession started a key 13-0 run for Wichita State midway through the first half. The Shockers' J.T. Durley hit a 12-foot jump shot while being fouled. He missed the free throw, but WSU recovered the rebound and worked the ball to Braeuer, who rattled in a three-pointer.

Just 34 seconds later, Durley hit a transition three, and the Shockers were on their way to turning a 12-9 deficit into a 22-12 lead. That was the biggest lead of the game until Braeuer's backdoor layup made it 33-22 WSU at halftime. UAB made seven shots and had 10 turnovers in the first half.

The game was sold out, but Koch Arena was about 70-percent full due to a winter storm that brought blizzard conditions to Wichita for most of the day. Tipoff was delayed by an hour to allow for safer travel and parking conditions.

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