It’s been an up-and-down season, but this Wichita State men’s basketball team can now lay claim to something no other Shocker team has accomplished in the American Athletic Conference era.
Wichita State scored 16 unanswered points down the stretch to clear a close game for a 79-65 win over Temple on Thursday, earning the program’s first win at the Liacouras Center after nationally ranked WSU teams in 2018 and 2020 they were smaller in the same building.
“I talked to these guys before the game and told them about the great teams that came to Philly and didn’t get a win,” said WSU head coach Isaac Brown. “I was really excited that they had the opportunity to do something that no other Shocker team has ever done before. I always talk to those guys from the past and now they wanted to do something where they could say they were first.”
WSU (14-12) has a 4-game hitting streak on the road in conference play, which helped level their AAC record (7-7) for the first time this season after an 0-3 start. The win over Temple also moves the Shockers within one game of fourth place in the conference standings (and a first-round bye in Fort Worth) behind Temple (14-13, 8-6 AAC), who lost his fourth game back-to-back, and Cincinnati, which Wednesday blew a 16-point lead in a road loss to East Carolina, with four games remaining in the regular season.
In a season where frustration had mounted after the team felt like it had lost several games it had won, beating Temple in Philly ranked as the Shockers’ best win of the year. And after that, they celebrated like this.
“Nobody’s won here but us,” gloated WSU guard Jaron Pierre, referring to his coach’s pre-game challenge to be the first Shocker team to win at Broad Street. “It’s just amazing to celebrate that win.”
Much like the SMU game in Dallas, where the two teams traded 15-0 points in the final eight minutes, was a second half points game between the Shockers and Owls.
Temple opened on a 9-2 run to tie the score, WSU responded with an 11-2 run, only for Temple to hit four straight 3-pointers and score 13 straight points to take a 62-58 lead with 6: 23 remaining . It was then that the Shockers reeled off 16 unanswered points and finished the game by outscoring the Owls 21-3.
Jaykwon Walton (high 21 points) and Craig Porter (10 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists) had 18 of 21 points during WSU’s winning streak.
It was especially impressive from Porter, who delivered another masterpiece down the stretch for the Shockers despite being limited and ineffective up to that point due to foul problems.
But WSU’s senior point guard came in when the game mattered the most, as he capitalized on a defensive mismatch with a step back, go-ahead 3 to give WSU a 64-62 lead with 4:31 left. Porter followed that up by grabbing a defensive rebound, leading a fast break, and hitting Kenny Pohto (12 points) for an alley-oop pass for an easy two more. After a timeout by Temple, Porter dagger-thrown with another step-back triple followed by a lane drop floater to extend WSU’s lead to 71-62 with 2:32 to play.
“The IB coach has so much faith in me, so when a coach has that kind of faith in you, then it’s hard not to have faith in yourself,” Porter said. “He knows I can make these big plays and he puts me in a position where I have to deliver, so that’s what I did.”
A point of pride later for the Shockers was winning the rebound battle 16, 42-26, over a team bigger than the Temple. WSU grabbed 38% (12 total) offensive rebounds, fourth-best rate on the season and Temple’s fourth-worst, while the Shockers came away with an 83% clip on defense, third-best rate in the season. season and Temple’s third worst.
James Rojas produced his third double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while diminutive point guard starting his second career Melvion Flanagan came in and secured a team-high seven rebounds.
WSU also hit double-digit 3-pointers for the fifth time this season with Walton making up in the middle of the team’s 10 while matching his career-high with five 3-pointers. After struggling with turnovers in their last two games, WSU capped their tally at 12 against Temple, which helped the Shockers offense pull off a healthy 1.16 points per possession against the third-best defense in the league. AAC game.
Both coaches agreed afterwards that the more physical team won the game.
“I always try to relate to boxing,” Temple trainer Aaron McKie said. “Sometimes you look and you see guys with a broken eye and bloody lip and most people say they need to stop the fight. But in the boxer’s mind, they think they’re going to have to get me out of here. You have to have that kind of mindset. You have to have that, and teams that are capable of winning this time of year have that kind of mentality.”
Brown has also proven to be a master of the yo-yo, frequently and effectively switching up WSU’s defense to turn Temple into a jump shot team and limit the damage caused by his dynamic duo of Khalif Battle and Damian Dunn. The battle went scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting in a season-low 17 minutes, the first time he’s been shut out since a freshman at Butler in the 2019-20 season, while Dunn had 14 points but 3 out of 3 13 shoots.
Battle and Dunn both excel in isolation situations, where they can use their range of moves off the dribble to exploit defenders on an island. By moving to the zone, WSU was able to effectively shut down the duo’s supply of field goal shots.
WSU’s zone defense was never better than down the stretch as it led to eight consecutive defensive stops, including two turnovers forced by Rojas to help the Shockers rally for the win.
“The zone slows down teams and forces you to throw passes against it and teams have to run offense and they can’t just drive the basketball,” Brown said. “Our guys stayed calm and battled down the stretch and came away with a big win.”
Wichita State 79, Temple 65 basketball box score