After playing exceptionally well on the road this season and entering on a six-game win streak, the University of Tulsa continued its traditional struggles at Charles Koch Arena on Wednesday night in Wichita, Kansas.
Seeking its first win at Wichita State in two decades, the Hurricane instead stumbled to a painful 72-53 defeat in a pivotal American Athletic Conference meeting, extending its losing streak against the Shockers in Wichita to nine games.
“We didn’t play well,” TU coach Frank Haith said on postgame radio. “We just didn’t have the right pop.”
Wichita State (8-3, 4-1) never trailed, taking control early behind a dominant performance by big man Morris Udeze on its way to the season sweep. The Shockers pushed their advantage to 15 points late in the first half, scoring nine unanswered during a particularly rough stretch for TU.
Midway through the second half, the Hurricane (7-4, 4-2) strung together a 10-0 run to get within five on a steal from Curtis Haywood II and a floater from Elijah Joiner. On a crucial play that followed, a block-charge call went Wichita State’s way and resulted in a three-point play for Ricky Council IV.
On an off shooting night for many of its key players, TU couldn’t get closer than seven points the rest of the way. The Hurricane didn’t score in the final 3 ½ minutes, allowing the Shockers to pull away with the game’s final 11 points.
Darien Jackson came off the bench to lead TU with 12 points and nine rebounds — including seven on the offensive end — doing his part to give the Hurricane additional opportunities to cut into the deficit. Joiner, another senior guard, added 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting.
While Jackson and Joiner combined for 11 baskets, their teammates combined for 12. Brandon Rachal, TU’s leading scorer, had a dismal outing, missing 13 of 15 shots to finish with five points along with three turnovers.
Wichita State relied on 20-point outings from Udeze and Tyson Etienne, and the Shockers also attempted 20 more free throws than the Hurricane. Haywood took and made all three of TU’s free throws in the game.
TU is back at home Sunday to face Memphis in a 2 p.m. tip at the Reynolds Center.