TULSA, Oklahoma — With star guard Fred VanVleet slowed by a hamstring injury and fellow star Ron Baker hounded by one athletic Tulsa defender after the next, Wichita State coach Greg Mashall was hoping for some solid contributions from his freshmen and sophomores.
It didn't happen as the Shockers fell 77-67 to Tulsa Tuesday night.
Transfer Anton Grady, a senior from Cleveland State, stepped up with 18 points and nine rebounds to go with Baker's 23 and VanVleet's 11, but no one else managed more than four points.
"The young guys are certainly better players than they showed tonight," Marshall said. "We have to get more production from them."
Tulsa held Wichita State to 36.4 percent shooting and outrebounded the Shockers 38-32.
"It's a big win, no doubt," said Tulsa's second-year coach Frank Haith. "I thought our guys played with great toughness the whole game. It's a great win, because Wichita State is a great team. I saw Greg Marshall this summer and told him I would love to do with our program what he has accomplished up there."
Shaquille Harrison scored 20 points and Marquel Curtis added 16 points to spur the senior-laden Hurricane. Most of those seniors had lost three times to WSU in their careers and the Shockers had won a school record seven straight in the long-running series.
A four-point play by junior college transfer Pat Birt at 9:18 gave Tulsa a 57-51 advantage and the Hurricane slowly built on the advantage until it reached 69-57 with 4:02 left on two free throws by Harrison. WSU never came closer than nine points down the stretch.
"That was a huge play," Haith said. "Pat has shown in practice that he can get in a rhythm like that and his outside shooting really helps us. I think we picked it up defensively from that point as well.
Birt finished with 14 points and James Woodard had 13 for Tulsa, 2-0, which outrebounded Wichita State 38-32 and shot 46 percent to WSU's 36.4 percent (20-55).
"That was a very good Tulsa team," said Marshall. "I was worried about their experience and having the home floor. We've got some young guys that are going to have to continue to develop and get better."
VanVleet singlehandedly erased a 30-22 deficit in the final 1:15 of the first half with three consecutive 3-pointers. The first came with the shot clock at one second from about 30 feet, the second with 44 seconds left pulled WSU within 30-28 and the third came after he launched a long 3 over Rashad Ray with one second left in the half.
However, there was no second-half rally for the hobbled VanVleet. He was held to two free throws and sat out most of the final minutes.
Until VanVleet's trio of 3's, Tulsa had maintained a slim lead since a Woodard 3-pointer gave the Hurricane a 14-12 advantage. The biggest lead was at 30-22 on a lob from Ray to DeAndre Wright with 2:28 left in the half.
Tulsa: Had lost its previous 23 games against ranked opponents since an 84-71 victory over Dayton in the first round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament. Its last victory over a top-10 team was against No. 7 Cincinnati in the 2000 NCAA Tournament second round.
Wichita State: The Shockers had won the last seven including the last three on Tulsa's homecourt against their old Missouri Valley Conference rival and still lead the series 64-61.
Wichita State plays Emporia State Saturday.
Tulsa plays Ohio Friday in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
Greg Marshall's scouting report on Tulsa indicated the Hurricane would struggle from beyond the 3-point arc, but Tulsa made 10 of 22 for 45 percent. Harrison, a 23 percent 3-pointer shooter a year ago, made two of three, while Curtis, a 28 percent shooter, made both of his attempts.
"It's two years in the same offense now and things are flowing a lot better," said Curtis, who made 4 of 6 shots overall and 6 of 8 free throws. "Our focus is on making plays for yourself and others. So basically, I just let it flow and let everybody else do their thing, and that's how it happened from the start."
"They shot it well," Marshall said. "On paper, we weren't expecting them to shoot it that well from the perimeter."
STORMING THE COURT:
The students in the crowd of 6,670 rushed onto the court to celebrate with the players after the win. Ray went into the stands to play drums with the school band,