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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — As No. 11 Wichita State went to the locker room for halftime Tuesday night, there were some dumbfounded looks. The Shockers had just allowed at least 50 first-half points for the third straight home game and trailed Arkansas State.
Senior guard Zach Brown was fed up.
"Zach asked 'Do we want to be known as the best offensive team in Wichita State history or the worst defensive team in Wichita State history?,'" Shockers guard Landry Shamet said. "It means a lot to our guys to be better than that."
The Shockers finally were, using Samajae Haynes-Jones' 27 points to outlast Arkansas State 89-80.
Shamet scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half for Wichita State (9-2). Darral Willis had 18 points, and Shaquille Morris added 10.
Deven Simms scored 30 points for Arkansas State (4-8), a 29-point underdog. Ty Cockfield had 16 points for the Red Wolves.
The Shockers trailed 57-48 with 17:11 remaining before rallying behind Haynes-Jones and Shamet.
For Haynes-Jones, the performance was doubly satisfying. He has been dealing with a stomach issue for nearly three weeks, causing him to miss one game and account for just one point combined in the last three he did play.
"I just didn't feel the same," he said. "I started throwing up, and I had to figure out what it was. I finally got the right med."
The game was still in doubt in the final minutes. A technical foul assessed on Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall during a timeout with 3:12 remaining resulted in four free throws by Simms. He made all of them to cut the Shockers' lead to 83-78.
That lead was down to four when Haynes-Jones hit a 3-pointer with 2:08 to play. A tough basket by Shamet 53 seconds later finally allowed the Shockers to feel comfortable.
Arkansas State fired its way to a 50-44 halftime lead, shooting 62.1 percent and going 10 of 16 from the 3-point line in the half. Simms (15 points) and Cockfield (13 points) were a combined 10 of 15 from the field in the half.
"We gave up 50 in the first half and really just 28 in the second half if you take away the points for my technical," Marshall said. "And we didn't change a thing defensively. Law of averages, I guess."
Wichita State guard Conner Frankamp missed the game with a migraine headache. He had participated in the team's shoot-around earlier Tuesday.
With Frankamp out, Austin Reaves made his second career start. He did so against a school, Arkansas State, where both of his parents were standout basketball players. Father Brian Reaves was a three-year starter and ranks third in career assists at the school. Mother Nicole Wilkett was an all-conference selection as a senior.
Austin grew up an hour from Arkansas State's campus.
Austin hit three 3-pointers in the game's first 4 minutes and did not score again.
Marshall has heard Wichita State fans bemoan a schedule full of so many blowouts the past few seasons. He made light of that Tuesday.
"For all the fans hoping we could play some close games, that one is for you," he said. "As well as the rest of them apparently."
Arkansas State: The Red Wolves are done with difficult non-conference road games and gained some confidence with a competitive effort.
Wichita State: The Shockers did not ease concerns about their defense, a program pillar, but avoided a terrible loss.
Arkansas State: The Red Wolves begin a stretch of three straight home games with Culver-Stockton on Friday.
Wichita State: The Shockers play host to Florida Gulf Coast on Friday night.