TULSA, Okla. –– Elijah Joiner took the inbounds pass and sank a 3-point shot from 25-feet out that swished through the net for a 54-51 Tulsa victory Saturday night over the 23rd-ranked Wichita State Shockers in front of 8,089 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
Tulsa forced a shot clock violation by the Shockers with 0:03 remaining, thus giving the Hurricane one last chance in regulation to break the tie. Joiner took the inbounds pass from Brandon Rachal near the top of the key, and with one 10th of a second left on the game clock Joiner launched the game-winner.
Joiner ended the game with a career-high 22 points, along with a career-best five 3-pointers made. Martins Igbanu was the only other Tulsa player in double-digits with 10 points. WSU was led by center Jaime Echenique's 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The win, coupled with a Houston loss, put the Hurricane in sole possession of first place in the American Athletic Conference with a 7-1 record and an overall 15-6 mark. Wichita State fell to 17-4 overall and 5-3 in the AAC.
The victory was also Tulsa's second over a top-25 team in the last 11 days, as the Hurricane defeated No. 20 Memphis on Jan. 22 by a score of 80-40. The win also increased Tulsa's winning streak to 6 games.
"We have a number of guys who can make plays and do some great things to help us win from a scoring standpoint. Today, Elijah, it was his day. Obviously he was outstanding and finished it off with the game-winner. He was terrific and we needed every point he got," said Tulsa head coach Frank Haith.
In the low-scoring affair neither team reached the 40-point plateau until 32 minutes had already expired. The Shockers reached 40 points at the 7:07 mark of the second half on a Jamarius Burton jumper.
Tulsa took a one-point lead, 39-38, on a Joiner layup at the 8:15 mark, but Burton's jumper gave WSU the lead back. Two Igbanu free throws put the Hurricane back on top at 41-40 at the 6:35 mark.
Igbanu followed that with a basket in the paint that gave Tulsa a 3-point lead at 43-40 with 5:49 remaining, and from that point the lead went back and forth between the Hurricane and Shockers, staying within 2 points. WSU's Burton put the Shockers ahead by 2 points with 0:59 remaining, but Igbanu sank 2 free throws with 0:43 left for a 51-51 tie, thus setting up the late game heroics.
To start the game, Wichita State scored the first points in the first 40-seconds of the contest and took a 6-point lead, 9-3, at the 16:10 mark. The Shockers built its lead to 7 points twice in the next 5 minutes.
Trailing 14-7, the Hurricane went on a 12-4 run to take a 19-18 lead on a Joiner 3-pointer with 3:43 left in the first half. Tulsa would lead by 2 points at 22-20 on a Joiner 3-pointer before the Shockers closed out the half on a 9-1 run and went into intermission ahead 29-23.
Joiner led Tulsa with 7 first-half points, while Horne added 5. For the Shockers, Echenique totaled 13 points by halftime. Tulsa shot just 32-percent from the field in the first half, while Wichita State knocked down 37.9 percent
Tulsa will be back at the Reynolds Center to host the UConn Huskies this Thursday, Feb. 6 with a 6 p.m. tipoff. Tulsa will then travel to Orlando, Fla., for a Sunday afternoon match-up with the UCF Knights.