Basketball journalist Hannah Robbins discusses Tulsa’s struggle to handle Wichita State’s offense on Wednesday night.
Tulsa failed to improve on their three-game winning streak in their home game Wednesday against Wichita State. Only two members of the Golden Hurricane scored in double digits, with Martins Igbanu leading the way with 17 points and DaQuan Jeffries putting up 10.
The Golden Hurricane was unable to capitalize on winning the opening tip, missing four shots before the Shockers’ Dexter Dennis hit a three-pointer to start the game three minutes in. Igbanu responded quickly with a layup, but Dennis answered with another three, widening Wichita State’s lead and setting the tone for the night.
Chris Barnes’s jumper was the last time the Golden Hurricane connected for three minutes, as Wichita State put up six more points. At this point, Tulsa had lost momentum. Darien Jackson and Jeriah Horne tried to put a dent in Wichita State’s lead, but their jumpers could not make up the difference as the Shockers went shot for shot. Rod Brown’s dunk seemed to seal Tulsa’s fate halfway through the first half.
Once Tulsa dipped into the 14-point deficit, they started to kick into gear. Layups by Sterling Taplin and Jackson brought Tulsa within seven, but the team couldn’t get much going from there. Igbanu put up seven points in the span of a minute, but one player is not a team, and the only other player to score for Tulsa in the last three minutes of the first half was Horne with a single free throw. By the end of the half, Tulsa was again down by 14 points.
As the second half began, Tulsa seemed to have gained some fire. Igbanu was first on the scoreboard for the half with two layups. But Wichita State woke up at that point, and Samajae Haynes-Jones hit a three, followed closely by two more from Dennis. Tulsa responded in kind with a three each from Taplin, Jeffries and Elijah Joiner, but at that point they were just trying to tread water, not making a dent in Wichita State’s 11-point lead.
After Tulsa and Wichita State traded free throws, Tulsa seemed to stagnate. Wichita State made three three-pointers while in that same time Jackson made a single layup. The Shocker’s lead of 19 looked poised to grow.
Wichita State continued to score, going basically unanswered besides a single layup by Jeffries for an additional six points. Tulsa got things going toward the end of the game, but it was too late. Igbanu, Jeffries and Jackson put up an additional eight points combined, but Wichita State knew how to counter, and kept Tulsa firmly from making any progress to narrow the lead. Tulsa ended 21 points behind with a final score of 81-60.
Tulsa had a rough time, making only four of their 22 three-point shots and only 30 percent of their shots overall. Comparing this to Wichita State’s 45 percent accuracy with three-point shots, and their 47 percent accuracy overall, it becomes obvious why Tulsa lost. On Wednesday, they just weren’t able to get their shots to connect with the basket. Tulsa only made 18 of their 29 free throws, and if they had an edge of even a few more points, Wichita State’s lead would have been slimmer, and maybe Tulsa would have had a chance for a home win.