Shockers win another wild one at SMU
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - There were twists and turns but Wichita State found yet another creative way to win at SMU's Moody Coliseum.
Playing in Dallas for the first time since its historic 24-point comeback three seasons ago, the Shockers staged a fitting encore, trading twin 15-0 runs with SMU in the closing minutes before regrouping for a 71-69 victory.
Jaykwon Walton scored 18 points for WSU (10-9, 3-4), which has won all four visits to Moody Coliseum since joining the American Athletic Conference but last played there on Mar. 1, 2020, due to a combination of weather and COVID-19 related postponements.
James Rojas (12 points, 10 rebounds), Craig Porter Jr. (11 points, four blocks) and Jaron Pierre Jr. (10 points) also finished in double-figures.
Zach Nutall (17 points) and Efe Odigie (16 points, 11 rebounds) did much of the heavy lifting for SMU (7-13, 2-5), which led 69-67 after Odigie's baseline jumper with 47 seconds to play.
Porter was fouled on a three-pointer with 35 seconds left and converted all three free throws to put WSU back in front, 70-69.
The Shockers came up with two defensive stops in the final seconds to make the lead stand up.
Isaac Abidde pulled in a rebound on Nutall's missed three and converted 1-of-2 free throws with eight seconds showing. He missed the second, but Zhuric Phelps' would-be game-winner from the top of the key was off the mark as time expired.
Last-second drama didn't seem to be in the cards after WSU reeled off 15-straight to build a 13-point lead with just over 4:00 to go.
Walton scored nine of his 18 points during that stretch – the last on a fastbreak layup that pushed the margin to 65-52.
Then disaster struck.
The Shockers fell apart in the face of SMU's full court press, committing five backcourt turnovers on their next seven possessions.
Nutall converted a four-point play and turned a pair of steals into layups during a wild SMU comeback. After Phelps tied the game with a pair of free throws, Nutall swiped the inbound pass and stuck it in for a 67-65 Mustang lead with 1:41 to play.
Porter's jumper stopped the slide at the 1:08-mark and set up the final sequence.
The Shockers outshot the Mustangs 45-38% and outscored them 24-16 at the foul line.
WSU held early leads of 8-0 and 11-1.
SMU didn't score its first field goal until seven minutes in and was just 5-of-19 from the field before catching fire near the end of the period.
The Mustangs made 7-of-9 to finish the half on 6-0 run and scored the first five points out of the locker room to go up 34-25 with 19:09 to play.
A bad situation worsened for WSU when Porter went to the bench with four fouls near the 15:00-mark and starting center Kenny Pohto joined him less than five minutes later.
Instead the Shockers conjured up another round of Moody Magic.
Walton scored through contact to tie the game at 52 near the 7:00-mark.
Shammah Scott grabbed a rebound and fired a long outlet pass to Pierre for a layup. Later he hit Walton for another transition layup.
The Shockers are 3-4 in conference despite trailing at halftime in all seven games. Sunday's nine-point comeback comes on the heels of 14 and 16-point second-half rallies against South Florida and Tulsa.
WSU lost its first American era meeting with SMU (January, 2018 in Wichita) but has since won six straight against the Mustangs.
The Shockers improved to 3-3 in true road games this season.
With four blocks against SMU, Porter (1.89) is now the AAC blocks-per-game leader.
Rojas notched his fourth straight double-figure scoring game and his second double-double.
WSU plays host to Tulane (12-7, 5-3) Wednesday night at the Roundhouse (8 p.m. CT, ESPNU). Seats are available online at goshockers.com/tickets, by phone at 316-978-3267 (FANS) or in person at the Shocker Ticket Office, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the southwest corner of Charles Koch Arena.