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Early and No. 5 Wichita St beat Illinois St 70-55

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 22, 2014 at 10:42 pm •  Published: January 22, 2014
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NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Cleanthony Early and No. 5 Wichita State now have something else in common with Larry Bird's Indiana State team.

Wichita State beat Illinois State 70-55 to remain unbeaten, along with No. 1 Arizona and No. 2 Syracuse.

The Shockers (20-0, 7-0 Missouri Valley Conference), coming off a Final four appearance last season, are the second MVC team to open a season 20-0, joining Bird's Indiana State squad of 1978-79 that played in the Final Four.

"I think it's a pretty big accomplishment," WSU's Ryan Baker said, "considering the other team to do it was Indiana State -- and who was on that team. I'm assuming it was Larry Bird, right?"

Early scored 23 points and added 10 rebounds, making 6 of 9 from 3-point range as the Shockers dominated the long-ball category.

The Shockers made 11 of 27 from 3-point range compared to 1 of 25 for Illinois State.

"He's the one who shot well," WSU coach Gregg Marshall said of Early. "The others just shot OK. Six for nine for him is tremendous."

Marshall said he recently moved the 6-foot-8 Early to the wing more on offense, with the shorter Baker operating in the lane against ISU's 2-3 zone.

The defense gave Wichita trouble early.

"We had four or five turnovers in the first four-minute segment," Marshall said, "and 11 in the first half, which is more than we average for a game. If we played the second half like we had the first, we wouldn't have won the game."

They did nothing of the kind. WSU had just two second-half turnovers and scored 45 points after trailing by three at the half.

"We started playing our brand of basketball," said sophomore point guard Fred Van Vleet, whose six assists and one turnover will keep him second in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio. "In the first half, we sometimes over-passed."

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