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Wichita State uses its defense to power past Arizona

11-seeded Wichita State forces 19 turnovers and holds 6-seed Arizona to a season low 55 points.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Wichita State held Arizona to a season low 55 points and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Shockers led by 12 at the half (31-19) and held on for a 65 to 55 victory over 6-seeded Arizona. Wichita State has held seven straight opponents under 60 points and have advanced to the round of 32 for the fourth consecutive season.

Gregg Marshall's team forced 19 turnovers and disrupted the Wildcat offense the entire game. Arizona was second in the PAC-12 in scoring (81 ppg), but converted just 42 percent of its shots and shot just  33 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

Wichita State's depth was a factor as their bench out scored the Wildcat bench 27-8. Four Shockers reached double figures in scoring. Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, Fred VanVleet led the way with 16 points and five steals. VanVleet's backcourt mate Ron Baker added 13 points and six assists. Reserves Connor Frankamp and Markis McDuffie each scored 10 points.

Arizona's Gabe York, Allonzo Trier and Ryan Anderson all entered the game averaging 15 points per game. Thursday night they scored 10, 10 and 8 respectively. Four of Arizona's starters finished with more turnovers than assists.

Wichita State has won nine of its last 12 NCAA Tournament games under Gregg Marshall. Both victories this season have been accomplished against 'power 5' conference teams. WSU (26 - 8) faces Miami on Saturday.

Marshall said it was team defense that won the day.

"It was our night tonight, and our defense carried us," said Marshall. "I have great respect for our players and their ability to defend."

Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller's tournament record fell to 17-8, and Marshall shared his respect for Miller and the Wildcats.

"I have great respect for Sean and what he does at Arizona," he said. "You almost hate to see them lose, because they play the game the right way and their best players are really good people too."

Thursday's victory was WSU's fourth win over a higher-seeded team in the last four years. The Shockers will have to beat a higher-seeded team from a 'power 5' conference again on Saturday, if they are to earn their third Sweet Sixteen appearance in the last four years. Miami finished third in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and is the 3-seed in the South Region.