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Second Half Surge Lifts Shockers Over Redbirds, 70-55

January 23, 2014


WICHITA, Kan. - Cleanthony Early scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as he recorded his fifth double-double of the season and ninth of his career and Ron Baker chipped in 15 points as Wichita State collected its 20th win of the season by defeating Illinois State 70-55.

Wichita State shot 23-of-57 (40.4 percent) and 11-of-27 (40.7 percent) from behind-the-arc. The Redbirds shot 19-of-59 (32.2 percent) and just 1-of-25 (4 percent) from behind-the-arc. Illinois State forced 11 Shocker turnovers in the first half to lead 28-25 at the break but Wichita State settled down and only turned the ball over twice during the last 20 minutes.

The Shockers turned the ball over five times in its first six possessions to open the game as they trailed the Redbirds 6-3 early in the first half. Early scored the next five points for the Shockers as he tied things up at 8-8 with a trey from the corner. The Redbirds would score the next six points to take a 14-8 lead behind a steal and transition layup from Redbird guard Bobby Hunter. 

Wichita State cut the lead to 18-15 after a jump-hook from Kadeem Coleby, but the Redbirds answered with two offensive rebounds, a layup, and a three-pointer to get its lead back to six at 23-17. 

An 8-1 run by the Shockers consisted of two three-pointers from Early and Tekele Cotton and a lay-in from Darius Carter that gave the Shockers its first lead of the game at 25-24. But the Redbirds would score the final four points of the half and take a 28-25 lead into intermission.

Early led Wichita State in the first half with 11 points and six rebounds, including three three-pointers. 

The Shockers opened up the second half on a 10-1 run to take a 35-29 lead that was highlighted by a two-handed slam from Early. 

Early opened up the second half with a three-pointer and Ron Baker forced a Redbird timeout with his first trey of the game as Wichita State took its biggest lead. Layups by Cotton, Fred Van Vleet, and Carter increased the Shocker lead to 47-34 as the Shockers outscored the Redbirds 22-6 during the first eight minutes of the second half.

The Shocker lead hovered around 13 points throughout the second half until a pair of free throws from Baker increased the lead to 58-42 with 5:56 remaining in the game. 

The highlight of the game came on a monster slam from Cotton that gave Wichita State a 60-42 lead. Cotton cut baseline as Baker fed him in stride and Cotton rose above the Redbird defense for the easy throw down. The dunk caused the Wichita State bench to jump out of its seats in reaction to the thunderous dunk by Cotton.

Illinois State climbed back within 60-5 but Early hit his sixth triple of the game and Van Vleet stole the ball in the open court and converted the transition layup to put the game out of reach. 

Wichita State will look to continue its unbeaten streak against the Drake Bulldogs on Saturday, January 25 in Des Moines, Iowa.

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