Wichita State rallies past Evansville
Wichita, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - To upset undefeated Wichita State on its home floor, Evansville had to be perfect for 40 minutes.
The Purple Aces were well on their way early, making their first eight shots and building a 15-point lead in front of a stunned Charles Koch Arena crowd.
The fourth-ranked Shockers answered the barrage, however, and wound up pulling away for an 81-67 victory to keep their perfect season in tact.
Fred VanVleet and Ron Backer led the comeback effort with 14 points apiece as Wichita State (23-0, 10-0 MVC) took control by ending the first half on a 25-4 flurry. Cleanthony Early and Tekele Cotton added 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the victors.
D.J. Balentine, who was coming off a 43-point showing in a loss to Northern Iowa on Wednesday, paced Evansville (10-13, 3-7) with 26 points but missed nine of his final 14 shots after starting out 6-of-7.
The Purple Aces did not miss a field goal attempt over the first 8 1/2 minutes and held a stunning 29-14 cushion before turnovers and fouls did them in.
Wichita State was in the bonus with 9:23 remaining in the first half following Egidijus Mockevicius's second foul, and with Evansville's starting center on the bench, the Shockers got easy baskets inside and created several turnovers via their full-court press.
Early's 3-pointer with just over a minute left gave the Shockers their first lead at 35-33, and a dunk by Darius Carter and two Early free throws stretched Wichita State's lead to 39-33 at the break.
Evansville committed seven turnovers during Wichita State's half-ending run and never quite recovered in the second half. It was as close as 42-38 before Wichita State scored the next six points, and Cotton's 3-pointer extended the margin to 53-41 with under 14 minutes to play.
The Shockers led comfortably the rest of the way to remain one of three undefeated teams in the nation.
Wichita State is 10-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play for the first time in its history ... The Shockers are 14-0 at home this season ... The Shockers outscored the Purple Aces at the free throw line 24-10 ... VanVleet added seven rebounds and five assists ... Wichita State pulled down 17 offensive rebounds won the battle on the glass 40-29 ... Mockevicius fouled out with 1:59 remaining and finished with eight points ... Evansville, which swept last season's series from Wichita State's Final Four squad, is 0-6 all-time against opponents ranked in the Top-5.
02/01 17:24:02 ET