Jakob Poeltl's tenth rebound to secure the double-double was his biggest, snagging an offensive board after a Utah missed free throw. All night, the 7'0" freshman from Vienna, Austria tormented the Shockers to the tune of 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Both the #25 Utah Utes (6-1) and #8 Wichita State Shockers (4-1) played spectacular defense to force overtime and bring it down to the wire. In the end, Utah achieved a signature win and WSU is left to figure out how to tighten up their offense.
The game began with an opening 10-0 Shocker lead in the first five minutes as WSU's defense and offense were in sync and Utah didn't quite know what to do with itself. Then Poeltl emerged as a force under the basket by fueling a 7-0 run in response which energized Utah. With almost 10 minutes elapsed WSU's lead was cut to 17-14. At that point, Poeltl had 9 points with a perfect 4 for 4 from the field.
Although Wichita State still led 33-29 at the half, the Utah offense was just starting to get into a rhythm and the Wichita offense was having troubles. Star guard Fred Van Vleet only hit one of his seven shots and looked off through the entire first half. WSU's lead was built mostly on having a higher production of three point shots, while Utah was doing more with the ball under the basket.
Van Vleet's shooting woes continued into most of the second half, as he consistently attempted shots beyond the arc that just didn't fall, or he was blocked at the rim by the Utes' dominating inside presence. While Ron Baker (Jr-G) and Tekele Cotton (Sr-G) did all they could to keep pace, without the team's most dynamic shooter playing well they couldn't keep up.
Utah began to diversify their offensive attack to spread out the solid Shocker defense. The emergence Brandon Taylor (Jr-G), Delon Wright (Sr-G), and Dakarai Tucker (Jr-G/F) shifted the game from a grinding battle into a slugfest that propelled U of U to the lead.
Poeltl took a back seat in the scoring game, only scoring 3 more before the game ended. However, his additional 7 rebounds and 3 blocks set the tone in the second half. Even when he sat, senior Dallin Bachynski used his 7'0", 265 lb frame to grab 4 rebounds and keep Wichita State from getting easy shots.
The diagnosis for the Shockers' lack of post game ultimately is that Darius Carter (Sr-F) was the one man who could impose his will on the powerful Utah centers, but his two early fouls kept him out for most of the second half, and then he continued to see limited minutes, ultimately fouling out.
Utah eventually built their lead to 11, but with just 1:12 left in the second quarter Van Vleet began hitting his shots. Down by 7, Van Vleet hit a three to bring their deficit to 4, but Utah was unable to get the ball back onto the court or get a timeout. Wichita State took advantage of the turnover and defensive dynamo Tekele Cotton took matters into his own hands to cut the difference to 1 with his own shot beyond the arc.
WSU stole the ball, giving them an opportunity to take the lead. After a break in the game's flow to warn the fans to not throw things onto the court, Van Vleet hit a dagger to give the Shockers a 2 point lead, capping a 14-1 run. Utah's Tucker then made two free throws to tie the game, sending it to overtime.
Overtime looked a lot like regulation, as a defensive battle brewed between the two teams. Utah continued to pound the rim while Wichita State took outside shots (a notable exception being a beautiful inside reverse layup by Ron Baker).
The lead went back-and-forth between the squads, with Delon Wright making a smooth jumper over Van Vleet to give the Utes the lead.
Shortly thereafter, Van Vleet had the opportunity to take the lead at the free throw line. Unfortunately for the Shockers, he missed the first free throw, and Evan Wessel's (Jr-G) shot off the offensive rebound missed, giving Utah the ball. Although the Utes would miss their next three free throw attempts (made possible by Poeltl's tenth rebound), they did run down the clock to 1.4 seconds, where the Shockers were unable to take a quality shot.