WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Tyson Etienne and Alterique Gilbert each scored 16 points and Dexter Dennis added 12 points and a crucial steal in the final seconds, leading Wichita State to a 68-63 victory over No. 6 Houston on Thursday night.
The Shockers (13-4, 9-2 American Athletic Conference) moved past Houston (17-3, 11-3) and into first place in the conference standings.
DeJeon Jarreau led the Cougars with 16 points. Quentin Grimes added 13 points and Justin Gorham 10.
Ricky Council added 11 points for Wichita State, which had its first home victory against a top-six opponent since beating No. 2 Louisville on Feb. 25, 1967. The Shockers also snapped a six-game losing streak against Houston.
Houston led by as many as 12 points in the first half before Wichita State stormed back and cut the deficit to 34-33 by halftime.
Gilbert hit consecutive 3-pointers to cap an 11-0 run by Wichita State at the start of the second half. The Shockers led 44-34 and were 9 of 13 from 3-point range to that point.
An impressive stat for a team that entered the game shooting 32.3% from the 3-point arc this season, ranking 246th nationally.
GILBERT AND THE GANG
Wichita State was without its two reserve point guards, Craig Porter and Trevin Wade, due to illness and injury.
While Etienne helped handle some of the point guard duties, Gilbert played 31 minutes and handled to load well, He was 6 of 11 from the floor, 3 of 4 from the 3-point line and added three assists.
He consistently broke down Houston’s defense, leading to interior shots and Houston fouls.
“Their backcourt is tremendous, and they played well tonight,” Sampson said. “The difference was at the free throw line. They were 18 of 23 from the line, and we were 5 of 11. We couldn’t keep them off the line.”
After tearing the ACL in his right knee in May, Houston senior forward Fabian White was listed as redshirting this season.
But White made his surprising return in the game, a huge addition of experience to an already deep Houston team.
White entered the season with 98 career games played, 52 of them starts. He averaged 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds last season.
White quickly made an impact, following a reverse layup with an assist on a Grimes’ 3-pointer that gave Houston a 20-9 lead. He finished with three points in nine minutes.
“This was a hard game for him to come in,” Sampson said. “We were planning on other games for him to come back, but they got postponed.”
Houston: The Cougars can still earn a share of the title, but recent losses might affect their NCAA Tournament seeding.
Wichita State: The Shockers listened to pundits say they had to beat Houston to have a chance at an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.
Houston: Hosts Cincinnati on Sunday.
Wichita State: At SMU on Feb. 25.
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