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Archive for Sunday, December 24, 2006

Vegas proves to be bad bet for Shockers

December 24, 2006

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— Wichita State hopes what happened in Vegas stays here.

The eighth-ranked Shockers came to Sin City unbeaten and are leaving with two losses in as many nights.

Nick Young scored a season-high 26 points and Southern California beat Wichita State, 60-56, in the third-place game of the Las Vegas Classic on Saturday, one night after the Shockers lost, 71-68, to New Mexico for their first defeat of the season after opening 9-0.

"They kept coming at us," Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon said. "They have a lot more athletes than us. Nick Young was unbelievable."

Young, who went 11-for-14 from the field, made a jumper as the shot clock ran out with 1:03 to play, and Lodrick Stewart then stole the ball and made one free throw to put the Trojans (10-3) ahead 58-53.

But Sean Ogirri of Wichita State made a 3-pointer with 7 seconds to go to make it 58-56, and Daniel Hackett of the Trojans had to make two free throws with 6.4 seconds left to put the game away.

"We can't get caught up with what happened here in Vegas," Wichita State's Kyle Wilson said. "If there's a good thing with the two losses, the timing is good. We get time off for Christmas, guys go home, we get motivated for conference."

Hackett and Taj Gibson had 12 points and five rebounds apiece for the Trojans, who have won five of six and beat a ranked opponent for the first time this season. They lost to Kansas State on Friday in the semifinals.

Hackett said the Trojans had that loss on their mind Saturday night.

"There was a lot of emotion after that game," he said. "And a lot of emotion before this game."

Ogirri led Wichita State (9-2) with 16 points.

USC'S TAJ GIBSON BLOCKS A SHOT by Wichita State's Ryan Martin. The Trojans beat the Shockers, 
60-56, on Saturday at the Las Vegas Classic.

USC'S TAJ GIBSON BLOCKS A SHOT by Wichita State's Ryan Martin. The Trojans beat the Shockers, 60-56, on Saturday at the Las Vegas Classic.

P.J. Cousinard, who missed a start for the first time in 31 games on Friday with a stomach virus, scored 13 points for Wichita State, and Wilson added 11 points and seven rebounds.

A dunk from Gibson put USC up by 10 with 13:28 remaining, and the freshman blocked a shot and made a left-handed layup at the other end to give the Trojans another double-digit lead, 44-34, with 12 minutes to play.

But Cousinard, who didn't start and played just 8 minutes in the first half, scored four straight points to pull Wichita State within four and later cut it to 52-50 after two free throws with 3:36 remaining.

Cousinard again made it a two-point game at 55-53 with a layup with 1:37 to play. He went 5-for-10 from the field and played 25 minutes.

"It was amazing what P.J. did," Turgeon said. "He had stayed in bed, but he got on the bus and wanted to try it."

Wichita State's season-opening winning streak included victories over then-No. 6 LSU and then-No. 15 Syracuse, but the Shockers had to rally just to get close to New Mexico and never led against USC in the second half Saturday.

Wichita State outrebounded USC 36-27, but shot just 38 percent from the field to USC's 51 percent.

The Trojans have held 12 of their 13 opponents this season to under 40 percent shooting.

"Our poise defensively finally helped us," USC coach Tim Floyd said. "This was a quality win for us."

After a first half that featured some shoving and shouting matches, Hackett was intentionally fouled by Phillip Thomasson and made both free throws with 1:48 to play.

"It was like a football game," Turgeon said, "they were very physical."

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