New Mexico 71, No. 8 Wichita St. 68

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LAS VEGAS (AP)—Things weren’t going right for Wichita State before Friday night’s game against New Mexico and it was as bad as it’s been all season after it.

Tony Danridge scored 17 points and New Mexico handed No. 8 Wichita State its first loss of the season, 71-68 on Friday night in the third round of the Las Vegas Classic.

Before the game, Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon was informed junior forward P.J. Couisnard, the team’s second-leading scorer (12.0 ppg), was sick with a stomach virus. He went to the arena with team but couldn’t play, ending his streak of 31 consecutive starts.

“We kept looking around for P.J.,” Turegon said. “I should have kept him back at the hotel. I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t feel right.”

The loss leaves four undefeated teams in Division I: No. 1 UCLA (10-0), No. 14 Connecticut (10-0), No. 21 Oregon (10-0) and Clemson (11-0).

J.R. Giddens, who did not play the final 15:39 after injuring his left foot, added 14 points for the Lobos (9-2), while Jamal Smith added 13 points and five assists.

“It’s a road game and it’s a huge victory,” said Smith, who is from Las Vegas. “We came out and showed them we’re a high-caliber team. It was a great experience against a great opponent.”

Kyle Wilson had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Shockers (9-1), whose last loss was to George Mason in the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 last March.

Sean Ogirri added 18 points for Wichita State, which was at the school’s highest ranking since the Shockers were No. 2 on Dec. 29, 1981.

After trailing 40-27, Wichita State went on a 17-5 run, which included two 3-pointers by Ogirri, to get within 45-44 with 11:00 left. New Mexico then went on an 8-2 run. The Shockers cut the New Mexico lead to three points on three occasions down the stretch but got no closer.

“We respect Wichita State. It an outstanding effort from our bench to pull this one off,” New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay said. “We were pleased with the outcome.”

New Mexico will play Kansas State, which beat Southern California 68-55, in the championship game Saturday night. Wichita State and Southern California will play for third place.

The Shockers finished 27-of-60 from the field (45 percent), while the Lobos were 24-of-55 (44 percent). New Mexico was 14-of-18 from the free throw line while Wichita State was 4-of-9.

The Lobos held a 33-19 halftime lead after Wichita State shot just 29 percent from the field (8-of-28), including going 1-of-10 from 3-point range. New Mexico, which did not go to the free throw line in the first half, went 7-of-17 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes.

“They totally dominated us,” Turgeon said. “They got some confidence and we couldn’t get over the hump in the second half. They were making three-point plays. It’s (New Mexico’s) night.”

This was the fifth meeting between the schools and New Mexico now leads 3-2. The Lobos won the last meeting, 95-81 on Dec. 1, 1978.

“We didn’t come out ready to play,” said Wichita State’s Matt Braeur, who had seven points. “In the second half, we played with more intensity and heart. We don’t like to lose. We’ll learn from it and come back tomorrow.”

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Wichita St.
K. Wilson K. Wilson
10-20,  23 Pts
9 Rebs, 3 Assists
 New Mexico
T. Danridge T. Danridge
7-12,  17 Pts
5 Rebs, 0 Assists

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Friday, Dec 22