Wichita State 70, Illinois State 55

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[January 23, 2014]  NORMAL No. 4 Wichita State 70, Illinois State 55: Cleanthony Early broke out of a slump with 23 points and 10 rebounds as the undefeated Shockers continued the best start in school history by defeating the host Redbirds.

Wichita State (20-0, 7-0 Missouri Valley Conference) notched its 16th double-digit victory of the season, thanks in large part to the dichotomy in 3-point shooting. The Shockers shot 11-of-27 from behind the arc  including 6-of-9 by Early  while the Redbirds (11-8, 4-3) were a hideous 1-of-25 from the 3-point line.

Early, who had scored only six points in each of the previous two games, was joined in double figures by Ron Baker (15 points) and Tekele Cotton (12). Daishon Knight's 12 points paced Illinois State while Bobby Hunter chipped in 10 points.

After scoring 11 points in the first half, Early opened the second-half scoring with a 3-pointer that tied the game at 28-28, sparking a 22-6 run to open the period. At one point during the surge, the Shockers scored three points on three straight possessions on a long-range shot by Baker, a 3-pointer by Early and a three-point play by Fred VanVleet.

Wichita State extended its lead to 60-42 with under six minutes to play, but Illinois State scored nine straight points  all by John Jones and Knight  to make things temporarily interesting. However, Early responded with his sixth 3-pointer and VanVleet had a steal and layup as the Shockers held on.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Wichita State did not take its first lead until Darius Carter's layup with about 1 1/2 minutes to go in the first half, but Illinois State scored the next four points to lead 28-25 at the break. ... Early had made just 7-of-26 3-point attempts over his previous five games. ... The teams met earlier this month with the Shockers posting a 66-47 home victory. That game followed a similar recipe, as Wichita State was 9-of-22 from 3-point range that night while the Redbirds were 7-of-26.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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