WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Markis McDuffie and Darral Willis Jr. each poured in career highs and Zach Brown finished one point shy of his career high to lift Wichita State over Tulsa, 80-53, Wednesday night in Charles Koch Arena.
McDuffie registered a career-best 18 points to go with seven rebounds. He finished 4-of-9 from the field and was a career-best 9-of-12 from the charity stripe.
In only 18 minutes of action, Willis Jr. set career highs in points (16), rebounds (7), field goals (7), field goal attempts (13) and steals (2). In his first three collegiate games, Willis Jr. has been an instant spark plug off the bench.
Brown added 15 points, five rebounds and three assists on an efficient 5-of-8 shooting overall. He also knocked down three triples in four attempts.
With McDuffie and Willis Jr. coming off the bench to start the season, the Shockers are averaging just over 50 points per game from the bench alone, after WSU’s non-starters poured in 52 tonight. In the season-opener the WSU bench tallied 54, which was the highest total in 10 seasons under head coach Gregg Marshall.
Wichita State (3-0) has now won eight of the last nine meetings with Tulsa in a series that dates back 86 years. The Shockers were again stout on defense, holding Tulsa to 33 percent shooting, including just 6-of-22 from beyond the arc. WSU also dominated the glass by outrebounding the Hurricane, 52-30.
WSU dished out 20 assists in the game on 27 made field goals (27-63), good for 42.9 percent. The Shockers struggled again from outside, as they finished just 6-of-22 from outside the three-point line.
Pat Birt led Tulsa (0-2) with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and former Shocker Corey Henderson added nine points, three assists and two steals in his return to Charles Koch Arena. He transferred after his freshman season in 2014-15.
For the first time through two games, the Shockers found themselves trailing to start a game. The Golden Hurricane led 3-2 just minutes into the game, but it would be short-lived as WSU would unleash an 11-0 run over the next two minutes and would never trail again.
McDuffie (7), Willis Jr. (6) and Shaquille Morris (6) were responsible for 19 of the team’s first 21 points to help Wichita State get out to a 21-10 lead near the halfway mark of the opening half.
Coming out of the under-12 media timeout a cold spell came over the Shockers. WSU missed its next seven shots, which allowed Tulsa to shrink the margin to just three, 23-20, with 7:34 remaining. That would be as close as Tulsa would get.
McDuffie and Rauno Nurger would then spearhead a blink-and-you-miss-it, 14-0 run to put the Shockers back up by double-digits, 37-20.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Brown and Nurger would lead the Shockers into the locker room with a 44-30 lead. McDuffie’s 13 points led all scorers, while Willis Jr. added eight points and four boards.
Tulsa’s Birt tallied 12 first half points on 4-of-8 shooting to go with three assists.
After the teams traded baskets for the first nine minutes of the second half, WSU began putting some distance between themselves and the Golden Hurricane. Brown scored 11 points around a massive two-hand slam from Willis Jr. during a 16-0 Shocker run to blow the game open, 71-43, with 7:40 to go.
During the run, Brown scored via a layup, two three-pointers and a three-point play to seal the deal.
The icing on the cake came courtesy of a three from the top of the key by Zach Bush with 49 seconds left.
WSU plays the last of four-consecutive home games to start the year on Sunday against Maryland-Eastern Shore (UMES). The 2 p.m. tip will be carried statewide on Cox Channel Kansas (Cox HD 2022) and in the Kansas City Area on Time Warner SportsChannel 2. Fan outside of the two markets can catch the game on ESPN3.