Shockers Remain Undefeated With 81-67 Win Over Aces
February 2, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
WICHITA, Kan. – D.J. Balentine surpassed his season average with 26 points, but a 25-4 first-half rally helped Wichita State top the University of Evansville men's basketball team by a final of 81-67 on Saturday at Charles Koch Arena.
With the victory, the Shockers (23-0, 10-0 MVC) remain as one of just three undefeated teams in the nation with Arizona and Syracuse.
Balentine hit 11 of his 21 attempts for the Purple Aces (10-13, 3-7 MVC) while tallying three treys. He was the lone Ace to post double figures. Just behind him was Egidijus Mockevicius, who finished with eight. Redshirt freshman David Howard had a strong game, totaling seven points and a team-best five rebounds.
Evansville got off to a blazing start from the field, scoring the first five points of the day as Adam Wing hit a triple. That 2/2 start turned into an 8-for-8 start as Evansville's lead hit double figures at 19-8 in the opening eight minutes.
D.J. Balentine made his first four shots and tallied 14 in the first 11 minutes as the Aces started the game at 11-of-14 from the field. A Blake Simmons layup inside of the 9 minutes mark gave the Aces their largest lead at 29-14. Over the remainder of the stanza, it was all Shockers as they outscored the Aces by a 25-4 margin. Part of that rally came as the halftime foul count saw 16 whistles for UE with just five called against the Shockers.
WSU also utilized a strong press throughout the half, limiting the Aces to 2-of-12 shooting over the final 8:46 of the half while forcing seven turnovers. Fred VanVleet led the Shockers with 12 in the half while posting four rebounds in the period.
Out of the break, the Shockers kept up the pressure, taking a double digit lead for the first time at 48-38 as Tekele Cotton hit a pair of free throws. A Balentine free throw got UE back within nine points at 50-41, but the Shockers quickly pushed their lead to a game-high 14 points at 61-47 as Nick Wiggins knocked down his first triple of the day.
Balentine did his best to will the deficit back to single digits, registering five points in a row, but Evan Wessel scored four in a row to halt that rally. With just over six minutes left, Ron Baker connected on his first three in his eighth long range attempt as the lead grew to 69-52 before that edge would reach 18 thanks to a Nick Wiggins free throw.
Wichita State's lead would be pushed to as many as 19 points before the 81-67 final. WSU shot 51.9% while hitting five of their eight 3-pointers in the second half. For the game, Evansville outshot the Shockers, 45%-37%. After the rebounding tally was tied at 17 at the half, the Shockers fought back to finish with a 40-29 advantage for the game.
Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet were the top scorers for Wichita State, posting 14 apiece. Early was just behind the duo with 13 points and a game-high 8 rebounds.
Following a 2-game road swing, the Aces return home for their second meeting against Missouri State on Wednesday evening. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. at the Ford Center. It begins a big home stretch for UE as five of the next seven games will be at home.