WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Junior Etou had 22 points and seven rebounds, Elijah Joiner buried a go-ahead 3-pointer in the closing minutes and Tulsa held off Kansas State 61-54 on Saturday night.
The Golden Hurricane (5-4) took the lead early in the second half, then withstood a back-and-forth affair before Joiner hit from the right wing with just over three minutes left in the game.
The Wildcats (8-2) had several chances to tie the game, but Dean Wade missed a 3-pointer and Barry Brown missed a short jumper and Kamau Stokes clanked another 3 off the back of the rim.
All told, Kansas State didn’t hit a field goal in the final five minutes, missing all nine of its attempts. The Wildcats were also just 4 for 31 from beyond the arc.
Xavier Sneed had two of the 3-pointers and finished with 15 points and eight boards, while Wade had 13 points and Stokes had 11. Barry Brown scored 10 but was 0 for 7 from 3-point range.
Tulsa improved to 6-1 against the Wildcats in a series dating to 1932.
The Golden Hurricane were playing without junior guard DaQuan Jeffries, their third-leading scorer at nearly 12 points a game, who has been dealing with a hand injury. And they could have used the extra ball-handler in the first half, which was dominated by sloppiness by both teams.
The Wildcats, who entered the game 13th nationally in scoring defense, forced Tulsa into as many turnovers (11) in the first half as made field goals. Etou had four of them as he struggled to deal with the pesky hands of the Wildcats’ perimeter players.
Still, the Golden Hurricane trailed just 30-27 at halftime, and they used an early flurry of points in the second half to pull ahead on Etou’s 3-pointer with 12:38 to go.
The game remained a nip-and-tuck affair down the stretch, neither team ever leading by more than six until the final seconds, when Tulsa was able to put things away.
Tulsa won a defensive slugfest despite 15 turnovers, including eight from Etou. A big reason was the Golden Hurricane’s perimeter defense and work on the boards, where they out-rebounded the Wildcats 40-30 despite giving up several inches in the paint.
Kansas State was trying to match its best start by Bruce Weber, but instead watched its 23-game non-conference home win streak come to an end. The Wildcats considered the game at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita a home game, even though it was a 2-hour drive from their campus in Manhattan.
Tulsa begins a two-game homestand against Prairie View A&M on Thursday night.
Kansas State gets a week off before facing Southeast Missouri State next Saturday.