McDuffie leads No. 13 Wichita State past SMU 84-78Wichita State forward Rashard Kelly, left, defends against a pass by Southern Methodist' Jimmy Whitt, right, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
DALLAS (AP) -- Markis McDuffie is feeling good just weeks before March Madness.
And that could be rough news for Wichita State's opponents.
McDuffie scored a season-high 26 points off the bench, including nine during the first four minutes of the second half, to lead No. 13 Wichita State to an 84-78 win over SMU on Saturday.
The Shockers (23-5, 13-3 American Athletic Conference) have won six straight games and are one-half game behind first-place Cincinnati. Wichita State will host Cincinnati on March 4 in the regular-season finale for both teams.
McDuffie, a junior forward, led Wichita State in scoring last season but missed this season's first 11 games because of a stress fracture. He has primarily been a reserve since returning.
''I feel like I'm back to myself now in terms of airing everything out and playing the game,'' McDuffie said.
SMU (16-13, 6-10) lost for the sixth time in seven games since leading scorer Shake Milton (18 points per game) was sidelined with a hand injury.
McDuffie added to Wichita State's 37-35 halftime lead on the first possession of the second half with a midcourt steal leading to a three-point play. A 10-1 run put the Shockers ahead 56-43 with 12:18 to play, and they led by as many as 17 points.
''Getting that steal - that's a good way to start the second half,'' McDuffie said. ''No one expects you to make that play on the first play.''
Jahmal McMurray led SMU with 28 points. McMurray has topped the Mustangs in scoring in five of the past six games.
Shaquille Morris had 21 points and 10 rebounds (six offensive) for Wichita State. Landry Shamet returned after missing the Shockers' previous game because of illness and scored 10 points in 27 minutes, playing only eight first-half minutes because of foul trouble.
Because of injuries and NCAA-mandated scholarship limitations, SMU played with seven scholarship players on Saturday and has had seven or fewer during its past seven games.
Wichita State entered play third in NCAA Division I in rebound margin at plus-9.9. The Shockers outrebounded the Mustangs 41-23 and outscored them 26-12 in the paint, taking advantage of a shorter and short-handed SMU team that tried to defend with a zone.
''With what we have, I really feel good about 'em,'' SMU coach Tim Jankovich said. ''On the other hand, I go away from here just a little frustrated because I really think there was a game possibly to win against a great team.''
Wichita State got even for one of its two home losses this season, 83-78 on Jan. 17.
Wichita State: The Shockers are 8-2 in true road games this season with one to play. Since the start of the 2013-14 season, they lead Division I in road wins (48) and road winning percentage (.857). They avoided a conference opponent's sweep of a two-game season series for the first time since 2012-13 (Evansville, Missouri Valley).
SMU: The Mustangs opened the season 12-3, including wins over then-No. 2 Arizona and then-No. 14 USC, but have since gone 4-10. SMU will finish with a losing league record after winning the AAC last season at 17-1.
Marshall said Wichita State would cooperate with the NCAA, the Department of Justice or any other entity involved with the investigation that former Wichita State star Fred VanVleet and his stepfather reportedly received money from an agent.
''We try to get our guys to follow the rules, don't take anything from boosters, don't deal with agents until the season is over your senior year,'' Marshall said.
''We have nothing to hide. I'll always say if, because it's got to be proven that he did this, then we'll take our hit, whatever it is, and we'll move on. No one in that locker room had anything to do with it. No coaches. No players.''
During the game, SMU fans chanted, ''FBI! FBI!''
Wichita State will visit UCF on Thursday.
SMU hosts Houston in its final home season of the season on Wednesday.