PEORIA, Ill. — The Wichita State Shockers made it 30 for 30 Tuesday night with another two-hour documentary on how to dominate an outmatched opponent.
Guard Ron Baker’s 15 points led a balanced attack as the No. 2 Shockers moved within a game of a perfect season with a 69-49 Missouri Valley Conference drumming of the Bradley Braves at Carver Arena.
Three other players reached double figures for Wichita State (30-0, 17-0). Guard Tekele Cotton scored 13, forward Cleanthony Early kicked in 12 and point guard Fred VanVleet tallied 11 points.
The Shockers can wrap up the first unbeaten regular season for a Division I team since St. Joseph’s in 2003-04 by knocking off Missouri State on Saturday. The Shockers already clinched the top seed for next weekend’s MVC tourney in St. Louis and are shooting for a No. 1 regional seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament.
Guard Walt Lemon Jr. paced the Braves (12-18, 7-10) with a game-high 18 points, but converted only 6 of 20 shots. Forward Tyshon Pickett added a 13-point, 15-rebound double-double and forward Auston Barnes contributed 10 points.
Bradley sank just 27.1 percent of its field goal attempts, while Wichita State hit 48.9 percent of its shots, including an impressive 10-of-21 from the 3-point arc.
The storyline of the first half was Bradley’s miserable shooting. Thanks in part to Wichita State’s sound, tenacious defense, as well as bad shot selection, the Braves connected on just 8 of 34 field-goal attempts.
Meanwhile, the Shockers took more measured shots, working the ball around against an opponent which came into the game allowing an average of just 65.5 points per game. They scored on four straight possessions to establish a 16-9 lead at the 11:55 mark.
Wichita State gained its first double-figure lead at the 6:50 mark on two free throws by Early, making it 26-16. Early’s 3-pointer with 56.1 seconds left made the margin 34-22, but Pickett’s tip-in just before time expired cut the deficit to 35-25.
NOTES: Wichita State is the highest-ranked team to visit Carver Arena since it opened in 1982 and the first Final Four team from the previous season to play there. … Shockers C Darius Carter was named Newcomer of the Week in the Missouri Valley Conference for the second time this season. He averaged 14 points and 4.0 rebounds in wins over Loyola (Ill.) and Drake. … Bradley G Walt Lemon Jr. is one of only four players in MVC history to have compiled 1,600 points, 350 assists and 200 steals. He joins Larry Bird (Indiana State), Hersey Hawkins (Bradley) and Darren Brooks (Southern Illinois).
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