Wednesday, February 26, 2014
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No. 2 Wichita State rolls over Bradley

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[February 26, 2014]  PEORIA, Ill. -- In its undefeated journey through the 2013-14 regular season, No. 2 Wichita State has accomplished one milestone after another.

Tuesday night, the Shockers broke new ground with yet another Missouri Valley Conference blowout.

Using balanced scoring and outstanding defense, Wichita State became the first team in Division I history to start a regular season at 30-0 with a workmanlike 69-49 drubbing of game but outmatched Bradley at Carver Arena.

"That was the number tonight," said Shockers coach Gregg Marshall, who assigns an athlete's jersey number or a historical significance to each win as a motivational tool. "We're the only Division I team to win 30 straight in the regular season.

"Part of it is you can play more games now, which helps. You can play 31 with an exempt tournament. But this group likes to be the only team to accomplish this. They figure out a way to make it happen."

Guard Ron Baker scored 15 points to lead four players in double figures for Wichita State (30-0, 17-0). It can become the first team since St. Joseph's in 2003-04 to finish with a perfect regular season by beating Missouri State Saturday.


Guard Tekele Cotton added 13, while forward Cleanthony Early kicked in 12 points and point guard Fred VanVleet contributed 11. The Shockers canned nearly 49 percent of their field goals, sinking an impressive 10-of-21 on 3-pointers.

Their first five made shots of the second half were all 3s, turning a 35-25 halftime lead into a 50-34 cushion at the second TV timeout. The lead grew to 20 with less than seven minutes left, forcing some in a near-capacity crowd of 10,257 to head into a frigid winter night.

"I thought we played with what the defense gave us," Baker said.

Meanwhile, Wichita State took away most of what the Braves (12-18, 7-10) tried to do on offense with a blend of sound positioning and superior athleticism. Bradley made only 16-of-59 shots, including a brutal 12-of-45 on 2-pointers, and was turned away at the rim repeatedly.

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The Shockers finished with a half-dozen blocked shots and altered perhaps as many attempts at point-blank range.

"Their length comes from everywhere," Braves coach Geno Ford said. "At the rim, they have unbelievable length. They deny like crazy and then it's hard to finish at the rim against that team. They play terrific defense."

Guard Walt Lemon Jr. scored a game-high 18 points for Bradley, but converted only 6-of-20 shots. Forward Tyshon Pickett contributed a 13-point, 15-rebound double-double despite making just 5-of-20 attempts. Forward Auston Barnes contributed 10 points.

Lemon cherished the opportunity to knock off the nation's last unbeaten squad.

"We wanted to leave on a good note," said Lemon, one of the team's four seniors. "It wasn't the ending we were hoping for."

As for Wichita State, it continued its march toward a No. 1 regional seed and perhaps a No. 1 overall seed for next month's NCAA Tournament.

"I don't think it's sunk in yet what we've done," Baker said. "It might hit me when I'm 40 years old and watching college basketball somewhere."

NOTES: Wichita State is the highest-ranked team to visit Carver Arena since it opened in 1982 and the first Final Four team from the previous season to play there. ... Shockers C Darius Carter was named Newcomer of the Week in the Missouri Valley Conference for the second time this season. He averaged 14 points and 4.0 rebounds in wins over Loyola (Ill.) and Drake. ... Bradley G Walt Lemon Jr. is one of only four players in MVC history to have compiled 1,600 points, 350 assists and 200 steals. He joins Larry Bird (Indiana State), Hersey Hawkins (Bradley) and Darren Brooks (Southern Illinois).

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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