The Wichita State Shockers (20-0, 7-0) beat the Illinois State Redbirds (11-8, 4-3) by 15 points Wednesday night to be come the first school in the nation to reach 20 victories this season. The Shockers are one of three teams, along with Arizona and Syracuse, both 18-0, to remain without a blemish in the 2013-2014 campaign.
They have now won 50 games over the past 2 seasons, and the Shockers are the second only Missouri Valley Conference team to start off 20-0. In the 1978-1979 season, Indiana State, led by the legend Larry Bird, did not lose until the championship game against Magic Johnson and Michigan State.
Wichita State, coming off their first Final Four appearance in nearly 50 years last season, are ranked 5th in the AP Poll, and 4 in the Coaches Poll. While their schedule is not as tough as schools from BCS conferences play, the Shockers are proving that maybe last season’s run deep into the tournament wasn’t a fluke.
On Wednesday night, playing on the road, Wichita State trailed by 3 points at half, scoring only 25 before intermission. They turned it up in the second half, outscoring Illinois State 45-27.
Cleanthony Early paced the Shockers with a double-double. He led the team in both scoring, with 23, and in rebounds with 10. Ron Baker added 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 blocked shot.
The Shockers were certainly helped along by the fact the Redbirds shot 4% percent from three-point range. The anti-Creighton, if you will. Illinois State hoisted up 25 shots from behind the arc, and made one. One! They shot 52.9% from inside the arc – 18 for 34. Maybe they would have been more effective shooting from closer in.
Wichita State struggled in the first half with turnovers, committing 11. They only coughed up the ball twice after the half. Protect the ball, play hard defensively, and have an opponent hit just 4% from long range, is a good recipe for success.
The Shockers will face the Drake Bulldogs on the road Saturday night at 7:05 as they attempt to go 21-0. From here on, as the streak continues, some pressure may mount as Wichita State tries to stay unbeaten. This is turning into a heck of a season!