SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Garrett Stutz scored 25 points, and Ben Smith added 21 more to help Wichita State (19-4, 10-2) erase a two-point halftime deficit and escape JQH Arena with a 74-67 win over Missouri State (13-11, 6-6) here Wednesday in Missouri Valley Conference play.
The Bears shot 65.2 percent from the field in the first half to build a 36-34 advantage at the intermission, but WSU tallied 40 second-half points to hand MSU its sixth blown halftime lead of the season.
Kyle Weems scored 21 points behind five three-pointers to lead for Bears in double figures. Jarmar Gulley added 14, Anthony Downing scored 13, and Keith Pickens contributed a career-high 12 points for MSU which fell to 3-4 at home in league play and 6-6 overall.
With the loss, MSU is now in a four-way tie for third place in the MVC with Illinois State, Evansville and Drake -- a team the Bears play in DesMoines on Saturday night. Wichita remained one game behind first-place Creighton in the league standings.
Gregg Marshall's squad scored 12 of the first 15 points in the second half to move ahead 46-39 just five minutes into the second stanza. Smith knocked down a pair of three-pointers in the first three-plus minutes of the second period and finished with five treys overall.
Stutz dominated in the low post for the visitors, knocking down 10-of-14 field goals, including a momentum-breaking dunk-bank with 10:03 left in the contest that came on the heels of an athletic move to the basket and finish by Gulley. Stutz's basket made it a 57-48 game, and less than a minute later, Joe Ragland hit his second bonus ball of the contest to give the Shockers a 12-point advantage -- their biggest of the night.
The home team was game for a fight and continued to battle over the last nine minutes. Weems cut a nine-point deficit to 66-60 with 4:39 remaining and cut the WSU lead to five a couple minutes later with his fifth and final three ball of the contest.
At the two-minute mark Downing scored on a quick jumper from the elbow to make it a 68-65 game. On Wichita's next trip down the floor, the Bears came up with a stop and had the ball back with around a minute to play with a chance to tie. With 65 seconds left, Weems squared up for a potential game-tying three-pointer, but narrowly missed the long-range jumper, and the Shockers went 6-for-6 at the foul line down the stretch to seal the Wichita win.
Wichita State fnished 12-for-14 (.857) at the free throw line, including 10-for-10 in the second half and made 27-of-55 (.491) field goals, the second-highest percentage against the Bears this season. WSU was also 8-for-21 (.381) from bonus distance while holding a 31-27 rebounding edge. Both teams committed 10 turnovers.
MSU was 25-for-56 (.446) from the field with 7-of-21 (.333) makes from three-point distance. The Bears were also 10-for-14 (.714) at the free throw line.
In the first half, Gulley, Weems and Pickens had 10 points apiece to lead the home club, which honored its late head coach Charlie Spoonhour with a pregame moment of silence. Spoonhour, who coached the Bears from 1983-92, passed away earlier today at his home in North Carolina.
The Bears jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first two minutes with Gulley leading the charge with a couple of quick buckets. The Shockers then reeled off seven straight points to lead 9-7 at the 16:48 mark on a three-pointer by Ragland.
The lead changed hands five more times before a Gulley runner with 10:53 to go in the opening period pushed the Bears back ahead by five, 20-15. Pickens later scored on back-to-back possessions, including a solid runner in transition that made it 26-20 to give MSU its biggest lead of the half with 6:49 on the clock.
Again, WSU produced seven points in a row to climb ahead 27-26 just two minutes later, but the Bears ended the half on a solid floater on the left baseline by Weems to take the two-point edge at the break. There were five ties and 10 lead changes in all in the first half between the two rivals.
Missouri State will take to the road again Saturday at 7:05 p.m. when it travels to Drake (13-10, 6-6) for a pivotal road contest. The Bears are 6-4 on the road this season and 3-2 in MVC games away from JQH.