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Wichita State 65, Indiana State 58

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Travel problems and an opponent with a lot to play for couldn’t keep Wichita State from staying unbeaten Wednesday.

Forward Cleanthony Early scored a game-high 19 points and guard Tekele Cotton added 14 as the No. 4 Shockers held off Indiana State 65-58 in a Missouri Valley Conference showdown.

Wichita State (24-0, 11-0) remained one of two unbeaten teams in Division I, top-ranked Syracuse being the other. The Shockers also opened up a three-game lead on the Sycamores in the conference standings.

Forward Manny Arop led Indiana State (17-6, 8-3) with 16 points, but scored just one point over the game’s final 19 minutes and 25 seconds. Guard Jake Odum and reserve forward Khristian Smith each contributed 11.

It was a damaging loss for the Sycamores’ at-large tournament hopes, which really doesn’t contain a meaty out of conference win. They will likely have to win the Valley tourney March 7-9 in St. Louis to make the NCAA Tournament.

Indiana State had a chance to tie, but center Justin Gant’s layup was blocked. Early responded with a 3-point play with 1:03 left, giving Wichita State a 61-56 lead. Center Chadrick Lufile contributed four clinching free throws in the final 43 seconds.

Although the Shockers did not arrive in town until nine hours before the 8:05 p.m. tipoff — the charter flight Tuesday was cancelled because of Winter Storm Niko, which ripped through Terre Haute — Wichita State began the game hot.

The visitors scored on five of their first six possessions, building an 11-3 lead on a fast-break layup by guard Ron Baker less than three minutes into the game.

The Shockers maintained their lead throughout the half, expanding it to 28-19 when Baker stuck a 3-pointer from the left wing. They led 31-22 after a 3-pointer by guard Tekele Cotton.

Indiana State finished the half on a 13-5 run, thanks mostly to forward Manny Arop. He scored nine points over the last 3:18, including a high-arcing jumper with a toe barely on the 3-point line just before the halftime buzzer that cut Wichita State’s edge to 36-35.

NOTES: Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Wichita State leads Division I in road winning percentage at .805, going 33-8 in that span. … Indiana State is one of only two Division I squads to play in all four postseason tournaments (NCAA, NIT, CBI, CIT) the last four years. The other is Quinnipiac. … The Shockers are the highest-ranked opponent to ever visit Hulman Center, and the highest-ranked team to play there since Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad was ranked No. 1 during the 1978-79 season.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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