Key statistics: The Shockers held Tulsa to 7 of 21 shooting (33.3 percent) in the second half. WSU, despite playing with small lineups, out-rebounded Tulsa 43-29 and 11-6 on the offensive backboards. The Hurricane (13-30) shot six more free throws than the Shockers (19-24), yet scored six fewer points from the line.
How the game turned: Ron Baker’s jumper gave WSU a 53-48 lead and started a 10-0 run that handed the Shockers a 61-48 lead. Tulsa missed three shots and three free throws (one the front end of a one-and-one) during that span.
Records: WSU 5-0, Tulsa 0-3
VanVleet, Baker top the 20-point mark.
Another so-so first half turns into another high-powered second half.
Eric Hamilton becomes fifth recruit to sign with WSU.
- Sophomore Evan Wessel played a season-high 28 minutes, many of them at an unfamiliar position. The injury to Darius Carter and foul trouble forced Wessel to play power forward, especially in the second half. He grabbed six rebounds and played his typical hustling defense to help the Shockers limit Tulsa to seven baskets in the second half. While he gave up four or five inches to many of his opponents, they didn’t get many easy baskets or rebounds. WSU coach Gregg Marshall credits Wessel’s understanding of the offense and defense for helping him survive at a spot he rarely plays. “Evan Wessel played very, very well as a small power forward,” Marshall said. “Evan doesn’t practice a whole lot at the four.” Marshall was particularly pleased with the defense on Tulsa’s Rashad Smith, a 6-7 sophomore who scored six points and didn’t make a field goal in the second half. Smith averaged 19 points in Tulsa’s first two games.
- Guards Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet both scored 21 points, both hitting their career highs. Baker’s previous high was 18 against North Carolina Central last season. VanVleet set a career high for the second time this season. He scored 18 against William & Mary on Nov. 14. You don’t have to go far to find two Shockers scoring 20-plus – Malcolm Armstead (22) and Cleanthony Early (21) did it last season against Pittsburgh. Finding two guards requires more research. The last true backcourt duo to do it was L.D. Swanson (29) and Terrence Flowers (20) against SMU in 1994. Depending on what position you consider Jason Perez and Maurice Evans, they did it five times in 1998-99.
- WSU’s first-half scores reflect a lot of things, probably mostly that it has played a reasonably competitive schedule. It hasn’t faced big names, but it also hasn’t faced a load of teams that will finish 300 in the RPI. While giving due credit to halftime adjustments for personnel and strategy and depth, I’m guessing by the end of the season we’ll have several games in which WSU outscores its opponents by 10-15 points in the first half and several when that happens in the second half. Against Tulsa, fouls played a big role in the first half and the Shockers, with Baker and Cleanthony Early saddled with two fouls, were content to stay close and make their run in the second half when those two returned.
- Tulsa went 13 for 30 from the line and is 30 for 66 at home in two games.
- Future WSU opponent North Carolina Central upset North Carolina State in overtime on Wednesday.
Next up: vs. DePaul in the CBE Classic in Kansas City, 9 p.m. Monday