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TULSA, Okla. – Tied at halftime with winless Tulsa, 14th-ranked Wichita State walked off the court to chants of "overrated!"
Following an early season pattern, the Shockers found the offensive rhythm necessary to validate their ranking in the second half.
Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker each scored 21 points and Wichita State finished with a 26-6 run to shake free of pesky Tulsa for a 77-54 win Wednesday night in its first road game of the season.
The Shockers shot 53.6 percent from the field in the second half after hitting just 35.7 percent in a first half that ended 31-all.
"We want to change that and play the first half the way that we are playing the second half," VanVleet said. "We know that our ranking can be a shot of energy for the other team at the start of the game. But we know that we can grind on the other team for a while and then we will bust it open."
Leading 51-48 after an inside basket by Tulsa's James Woodard, Wichita State scored the next eight points to force a Golden Hurricane timeout with 8:35 left.
Wichita State (5-0) has outscored its opponents by a combined 71 points in the second half the past four games. Tulsa (0-3) was 13 for 30 from the free throw line. In its two home games this season, Tulsa is 30 for 66 from the line.
"We simply have to step up to the line and make shots," Tulsa head coach Danny Manning said. "We're disappointed and upset that we lost this game. We got beat. There are no moral victories. We have to get better and we have to battle in the second half the way we did in the first half tonight."
Tulsa pulled to 10 points on a 3-pointer by Pat Swilling with 5:39 to play, but VanVleet and Baker took over the game from there. VanVleet notched a 3-pointer on Wichita State's next possession and Baker capped off the Shockers' next two trips down the court with a jumper and a 3-pointer to boost Wichita State's advantage to 71-53 with 3:26 remaining.
Baker scored 12 of his 21 points after intermission to pace the Shockers' second-half attack. Overall, he also hit 5 of his 7 attempts from 3-point range.
"There were only three of us on the team who came down here two years ago and knew this was a very tough place to play," Baker said. "Down the stretch, we defended and made the shots we needed to make to win the game."
Swilling finished with 12 points, Tulsa's only scorer in double-digits.
Neither team could establish any kind of dominance in a first half that ended tied 31-all. Wichita State looked as if it would carry some momentum into the locker room when a pair of steals with under a minute left resulted in baskets by Evan Wessel and VanVleet to give the Shockers a 31-29 edge. Tulsa, however, took advantage after a Wichita State miss, with Rashad Ray streaking for a layup with 1.1 seconds left to tie it.