ST. LOUIS — Another win, another slice of history for Wichita State.
Forward Cleanthony Early poured in a game-high 23 points Friday night as the top-seeded Shockers became the first men’s team in NCAA history to start a season 35-0 with a 64-37 second-round pounding of overmatched Cal Poly in the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Regional at Scottrade Center.
“It’s really cool that we did it, and it’s really cool that we’re the first ones to do it,” guard Ron Baker said of the winning streak.
Early scored 19 in the first half, when Wichita State ripped off spurts of 14-0 and 9-0 to establish a 32-13 halftime lead.
The No. 16-seeded Mustangs (14-20), who eliminated Texas Southern 81-69 Wednesday night in the first round with their second-best offensive game of the season, found out quickly that scoring on the Shockers would be much tougher.
Forward Chris Eversley canned a 3-pointer to start the scoring, but Cal Poly made just three other shots in the first half. It finished 4-of-28 from the field and was 2-of-23 at one stage, finishing the night 12-of-58.
“It seems like Wichita State gets better defensively as the shot clock winds down,” Eversley said. “You can see why they’re unbeaten.”
Reserve guard Malik Love tallied nine points to pace the Mustangs, who were playing in their first NCAA tourney.
Wichita State canned 46 percent of its field goal attempts for the game and did its usual fine job on the boards, owning a 46-34 advantage.
The Shockers will meet No. 8 Kentucky or No. 9 Kansas State Sunday in the third round.
NOTES: Cal Poly’s Big West Conference tournament championship-game win over Cal State Northridge marked the first time in 17 games that the Mustangs overcame a halftime deficit. … Wichita State became the first Missouri Valley Conference team to earn a No. 1 seed since Larry Bird’s Indiana State did so in 1978-79. … Cal Poly entered the NCAA Tournament having logged 25,779 miles for its road games, thanks to trips to Delaware and Pittsburgh, as well as a conference game at Hawaii. … Only three Shocker opponents have made 50 percent or more of their field-goal attempts this season.
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