Wichita State (5-4) allowed Jacksonville State to hang around, nursing a single-digit lead for most of the game.
The Shockers then delivered some body blows on the offensive glass late that decided the game in a 69-65 home win.
“I love the fact that we won this game,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said Wednesday night. “That team [Jacksonville State] is going to win 20+ games and probably have a good shot to go to the NCAA Tournament.”
Dexter Dennis swooped into the lane with 1:49 left to snag a missed 3-point shot by a teammate, then flipped the ball to an open Samajae Haynes-Jones for a splash 3 that gave the Shockers a 64-60 lead.
Jaime Echenique then skied for a rebound off a missed free throw on Wichita State’s offensive end with 1:04 left, leading to three free throws by Markis McDuffie.
Echenique scored a quick 10 points in the first half in a preview of things to come as Wichita State pounded Jacksonville State at the rim all game, outrebounding the Gamecocks 44-33.
“We had a height advantage. That’s the only advantage we had, really,” Marshall said. “They’ve got experience. They’ve got a great coach on that side. Man, they played gutsy.”
Haynes-Jones led all scorers with 17 points for Wichita State.
The Shockers now have won 3 of 4 heading into Saturday’s game against Southern Miss at Intrust Bank Arena (4:30 p.m. CT tip-off).
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