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Porter Delivers Typical Porter-Style Game

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By Paul Suellentrop, Wichita State University Athletics

WICHITA, Kan. (goshockers.com) – Thirty minutes or so before Sunday’s game, Craig Porter Jr., walked up the tunnel toward the Koch Arena court and signed an autograph for a fan.

After Sunday’s game, Porter watched his senior highlight video with his family, took in the cheers from Wichita State fans, took pictures and signed more autographs.

In between, he gave another demonstration of how he wants to be remembered and how he will be remembered. The Shockers defeated USF 69-49 to wrap up a 4-2 close to the regular season.

“I really wanted to put on a show for them,” he said, after his parents, girlfriend and family members surrounded him on the court.

Porter’s final show in Koch Arena went like this: acrobatic scoring moves in the lane, passing to teammates for fast-break baskets, high-flying rebounds and more of those forceful blocked shots that he is famous for dealing out.

A typical well-rounded Porter game. When Shocker fans think about an up-and-down season, they will remember Porter’s highlight-reel contributions on both ends.

“He just goes and gets them,” teammate James Rojas said. “He is just ridiculous, how many shots a 6-foot-2 guard blocks.”

Porter finished with a career-high 24 points, five rebounds, five assists, five blocks and two steals in just under 38 minutes. What will miss about playing at home?

“Everything,” he said, which also describes what he gave the Shockers this season. “You’ve got to cherish everything.”

Sunday’s game – also the final sendoff for Rojas, Gus Okafor and Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler – gave coach Isaac Brown a lot to cherish. The Shockers (16-14, 9-9 American Athletic Conference) enter the AAC Tournament as the No. 6 seed and play 11th-seeded Tulsa on Thursday (6 p.m. ESPNU) in Fort Worth.

The Bulls, winners of three straight and four of five, spent 53 seconds with the lead and never by more than two points.

Aside from the convincing win at home and senior festivities, the Shockers should feel best about the second half. They expanded their lead throughout the final 10 minutes – up eight with 10:44 to play and 11 or more the final nine minutes – with a blend of stingy defense, rebounding and Xavier Bell’s shooting.

WSU held USF (14-7, 7-11) to five baskets and 16 points. The Shockers, after giving up nine first-half offensive rebounds, held the Bulls to one over the final 20 minutes. The Shockers allowed no second-chance points and three in transition in the second half.

“They were getting easy offensive rebounds, easy buckets,” Rojas said. “Way too many. Once we shut down their offensive rebounds, they really weren’t getting much in the halfcourt.”

Wichita State avoided a damaging scoring drought with Bell stepping up. USF cut the lead to 49-41 and the Shockers committed a turnover and missed two shots. Before the Bulls could cut into the lead, Bell hit a three-pointers and a layup to push the lead to 13. His pull-up made it 58-44 with 624 to play.

Bell scored all 11 of his points in 16 second-half minutes, making 4 of 6 shots. Okafor, who started in place of Jaykwon Walton, did his work with six first-half points and finished with eight points and seven rebounds.

“(Bell) was a big part of us extending that lead,” Porter said. “We needed him to make that big shot. That’s really big for him and us as a team to succeed.”

The Shockers showed almost all of the items needed to succeed, and should be helped by Walton’s anticipated return this week in Texas. Porter showed off. Experienced players played like it. The bench helped. The defense locked down a second-half lead.

Now they get to do it on the road.