WICHITA, Kan. (AP)—Wichita State played its first home game as a ranked team since 1983 on Wednesday night. In the first half, though, the Shockers didn’t look like the nation’s No. 17 squad.
But after taking a three-point lead into halftime, Wichita State turned up the pressure and ran away from Missouri-Kansas City to win 85-55.
“The pressure got to them,” said Sean Ogirri, one of four Shockers in double figures with 15 points.
After forcing only four turnovers in the first half, Wichita State (5-0) forced nine in the second half, many of them coming in the first 4:14 as the Shockers went on a 21-6 run.
WSU built the lead as big as 35 points, leading 82-47 with 1:06 to play, before coach Mark Turgeon emptied the bench.
With a 27-24 lead at halftime, WSU started the second half by scoring eight points in 50 seconds, five from Ryan Martin. WSU made its first 11 shots in the second half.
“All of a sudden I look up and it’s 20,” Turgeon said.
Phillip Thomasson had 12 points and 10 rebounds in his first start for Wichita State. Thomasson, a junior, sat out last season after transferring from Colorado State.
P.J. Couisnard scored 16 points to lead the Shockers, and Martin had 10.
Quinton Day, who scored 19 points to lead UMKC (3-4), said the Kangaroos lost their composure in the second half.
“We expected them to press us,” Day said. “We just got sloppy.”
Early in the first half, however, it was Wichita State that looked sloppy. The Shockers struggled to find a rhythm, missing 10 of their first 12 shots as UMKC built a 9-6 lead.
But Thomasson’s eight points in just more than three minutes and Couisnard’s 3-pointer gave WSU a 17-11 lead. The Shockers didn’t trail again.
“I really don’t have to say a lot,” Turgeon said about his halftime speech. “I just think it was one of those games when it didn’t start well.”
Wichita State made 10 of 25 shots in the first half (40 percent). But in the second half, WSU was 20-of-30 to finish the game at 54.5 percent.
“It took until halftime to find a lineup I was comfortable with,” Turgeon said.
WSU was 7-of-14 from 3-point range in the second half and finished 11-of-26 in the game. Ogirri said the pressure of playing at home in front of 10,478 fans didn’t have anything to do with the slow start.
“I don’t think it was nerves,” he said. “It was just some shots weren’t falling.”
He said it was thrilling to play in front of the home crowd as a ranked team.
“To be nationally known as a good team, that’s what it’s all about,” Ogirri said.
Wichita State’s next game is at No. 15 Syracuse, the second time in three games the Shockers face a ranked team on the road. They defeated then-No. 6 LSU 57-53 Saturday.
Brent Stephens added 15 points for the Kangaroos.