EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Ron Baker scored a career high 26 points to lead No.2/4 Wichita State to a 84-68 win over Evansville on Sunday. The Shockers improved to 27-0 on the season and 14-0 in the MVC. Fred Van Vleet had 18 points and eight assists in the win. Baker and VanVleet had career highs in steals with five a piece as Wichita State forced 18 turnovers, 14 of them came off steals.
The Purple Aces were led by D.J. Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius, both scoring 19 points. Mockevicius also grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss.
With the win, the Shockers became the 21st team in NCAA history to win their first 27 games.
Wichita State took advantage of seven early turnovers by the Purple Aces to build a nine point lead at 32-23 in the first half. Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker intercepted two passes and took it coast to coast for easy uncontested layups. The starting back court for the Shockers scored the first
15 points of the game for Wichita State before Nick Wiggins got fouled after his put back dunk that gave the Shockers a 18-15 lead.
The Shockers built an early 15-10 lead before the Purple Aces went on a 11-4 run to take a 21-20 lead. Blake Simmons scored five straight points for Evansville during its run.
One of the biggest stats of the first half was the execution off turnovers for Wichita State. The Shockers had 15-0 advantage in the points off turnovers category to build a 38-32 lead at intermission.
Baker led all scorers in the first half with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting, including two threes from downtown. D.J. Balentine, the leading scorer in the MVC, led the Purple Aces with 10 points at the break.
A 9-3 Shocker run to start the second half opened up a 12 point Wichita State at 47-35. Tekele Cotton drained a trey, Baker his a 15-foot jumper, VanVleet made a pair of free throws after getting an elbow to the face that resulted in a flagrant foul, and Early capped the run with a layup.
Cotton hit his second three of the game to give the Shockers a 52-39 lead and Early's old-fashioned three point play increased the lead to 14 at 55-41.
Egidijus Mockevicius scored ten straight points for Evansville as the Purple Aces climbed back to within 57-49. Two free throws by Adam Wing made it 57-51 with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation.
Early hit a clutch three-pointer and was on the receiving end of an alley-oop pass from VanVleet to get the Shocker lead back up to double digits, 62-51.
The Purple Aces quickly got the lead back to seven scoring the next four points of the contest. Wing hit a midrange jumper and Balentine made two free throws for Evansville. Mockevicius hit a jumper to make it 65-60 but Cotton's driving layup and two VanVleet free throws ended the Purple Aces run as the lead was back up to nine at 69-60.
Baker put the game out of reach with two free throws, a three-pointer, and a breakaway dunk on consecutive possessions to give the Shockers a comfortable 78-64 lead.
As a team, the Shockers closed out the game hitting their last 10 free throws.