EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Ron Baker scored 26 points and Fred VanVleet finished with 18 points, eight assists and five steals, leading No. 4 Wichita State to an 84-68 victory Sunday at Evansville.
The Shockers (27-0, 14-0 Missouri Valley Conference) remained one of two perfect teams in major college basketball and extended their school-record winning streak. They are the 21st team in Division I history to go 27-0, a list No. 1 Syracuse could join later this week.
But getting No. 27 sure wasn't easy.
D.J. Balentine and Egidiju Mockevicius each scored 19 points, not quite enough to prevent Evansville (11-16, 4-10) from losing for the fourth time in five games.
Evansville spent most of the second half trying to dig out of a double-digit deficit and got as close as 65-60 with about 6 minutes to play. But Wichita State sealed it with a late 13-4 spurt.
Things against Evansville never have been simple for the Shockers. Last season, the Aces swept the season series and two weeks ago, Evansville took an early double-digit lead in Omaha, Neb., before eventually losing by 14 points.
So Wichita State expected nothing less than Evansville's best effort Sunday, and that's exactly what they got.
After spending the first half in pull-away mode only to get repeatedly chased down by the Aces, Wichita State finally looked as though it would finally take control early in the second half.
Tekele Cotton got things started by hitting a 3-pointer on the Shockers' first possession. By the time Wichita's 11-3 run ended, with VanVleet's reverse layup, the 38-32 halftime lead had expanded to 49-35 and the Purple Aces were down to just two timeouts.
Wichita State still had a solid 55-41 lead with 14:04 to play when the Aces made yet another charger. This time, Mockevicius scored the first eight points in a 10-2 spurt that cut the deficit to 57-51 with 11:19 to play. But Cleanthony Early answered with a 3 and an alley-oop dunk to give the Shockers a 62-51 lead.
The Aces answered by going on an 8-2 run that got the lead down to 65-60.
But that's when Baker spurred the late scoring flurry that finally put the game away for good.
Early finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Cotton added 12 points while the defense forced 18 turnovers and held Balentine, the MVC's top scorer, four points below his scoring average.Associated Press
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