WICHITA, Kan. – WICHITA, Kan. – The Wichita State men’s basketball team won its 23rd consecutive game with an 81-67 victory over the Evansville Purple Aces Saturday afternoon inside Charles Koch Arena.
Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet led the Shockers with 14 points apiece, while Cleanthony Early chipped in 13 for Wichita State and led the team with eight rebounds in the victory. Tekele Cotton added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 2-for-2 from three-point range, while VanVleet handed out five assists and grabbed seven rebounds for the Shockers.
Wichita State shot 45 percent (25-for-55) from the field and 37 percent (7-for-19) from beyond the arc, while Evansville finished the game shooting 26-for-54 (48 percent) from the field and 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) from three-point range. The Shockers outrebounded the Purple Aces 40-29, dished out 10 assists and outscored the bench, 24-13 in the victory.
Evansville raced out to a 12-4 lead in the opening minutes, going 3-for-3 from three-point range and 8-for-8 from the field. Cotton hit a three at the 14:50 mark to cut the lead, 12-7 but the Purple Aces responded with a 7-0 run, capped by a jumper by D.J. Balentine to extend the lead, 19-7 with 13:11 left in the first half.
Nick Wiggins laid it in at the 11:00 mark but Balentine answered again with a jumper to give Evansville a 25-12 advantage halfway through the first half. A layup by VanVleet with 5:54 left in the half got the Shockers within single digits for the first time since the 14:32 mark. Wichita State would continue on to a 16-4 run, capped by a dunk by Darius Carter, giving the Shockers their first lead of the game heading into the locker room, 39-33.
Wichita State went into the break shooting 11-for-28 (39 percent) and 2-for-11 (18 percent) from three-point range, while Evansville shot 52 percent (13-for-25) from the field and 50 percent (3-for-6) from beyond the arc. The Shockers forced 10 turnovers, including six steals in the first 20 minutes and shot 15-for-21 (71 percent) from the foul line.
VanVleet led Wichita State with 12 points at the break on 3-of-5 shooting, 6-of-6 from the free throw line and handed out two assists, while Early contributed 10 points and led the Shockers with five rebounds going into the locker room.
Wichita State came out of the break with a thunderous dunk by Carter but Evansville laid it in on the other end to stay within six, 41-35. Cotton scored eight of the next 10 points for the Shockers, including a three from the top of the key to extend the Wichita State lead, 53-41 with 13:39 left in the game.
Nick Wiggins hit a three from the corner at the 9:32 mark but five-straight points by Balentine cut the lead once again, 63-52. A layup by Wessel and a three shortly after by Baker gave the Shockers their biggest lead of the game, 70-52 with just over five minutes left in the game.
Early and Wiggins hit back-to-back three-pointers, giving Wichita State a 78-60 advantage with 2:33 left in the game and Evansville never got any closer as the Shockers went on to win their 23rd consecutive game, 81-67.
The Shockers travel to Terre Haute, Ind. Wednesday, Feb. 5 to take on Indiana State in the team’s second meeting of the season. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. and will be televised on MVC TV.