No. 6 Houston suffered just its third defeat of the season on Thursday as the Wichita State Shockers held on for a 68-63 upset over their AAC rivals.
WSU joins Tulsa and East Carolina as the only other schools to topple the Cougars, earning a signature win just weeks before Selection Sunday.
An 11-0 run at the start of the second half pushed the Shockers in front for good, and junior guard Dexter Dennis notched 12 points and six rebounds in the win. It's the first victory over a ranked opponent for WSU this year after it previously fell to Houston 70-63 in early January.
The Cougars were able to cut the lead down to four with less than two minutes to play but couldn't retake the lead after holding a 34-33 edge at halftime. Two free throws from Houston's DeJon Jarreau made it a two-point game with 55 seconds left before Quinton Grimes banked in a contested three-pointer to cut the lead to one a few moments later.
It was a bounce-back moment for Grimes (13 points), who had an opportunity to make it a one-possession game a few plays earlier but missed the front end of a one-and-one with the Shockers grabbing the rebound.
With 19 seconds to play, Tyson Etienne (16 points, three assists) missed the front end of a one-and-one as well. But the momentum turned quickly back in WSU's favor as Jarreau turned the ball over to Dixon, who drew a vicious foul from Justin Gorham. That sent him back to the line with 11.4 left on the clock. The foul was deemed a flagrant-2, giving WSU two free throws and possession of the ball, all but ending Houston's hope of a late comeback.
Gorham was ejected for the foul after a review showed him trying to pull Dixon down mid-layup.
Wichita State is now firmly on the bubble for the NCAA tournament and still has an opportunity to improve its resume. The Shockers are still scheduled to face SMU, Tulane and Temple before the regular season concludes. They also remain in the race for the AAC title as Houston holds just a half-game lead over the Shockers in the standings.
Alterique Gilbert added another 16 points and three assists for Wichita State, while Houston received 16 points from Jarreau.
If the Shockers end up playing spoiler in March, a Thursday night win over Houston at Koch Arena in February may be the reason for it. Wichita State is looking to make its return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2018.