Evansville vs Wichita State

Time: 03:00 P.M. EST

Though the best start in school history has Wichita State among the last three unbeaten teams in Division I, the Shockers may be a little ornery in their next game.

After nearly blowing a big lead its last time out, No. 4 Wichita State apparently endured some tough practices this week, and the Shockers will be facing high-scoring D.J. Balentine and an Evansville team that swept them last season Saturday.

The Shockers (22-0, 9-0 Missouri Valley Conference) prevailed despite an lackluster effort in a 57-45 home victory over Loyola of Chicago on Tuesday.

Wichita State was held to 21 points in the final 20 minutes as it allowed a 22-point lead to be cut to single digits with 2:27 left. Cleanthony Early scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, but no other Shocker totaled more than seven.

The Shockers shot 36.5 percent from the field while committing 16 turnovers - their second-highest total of the season. Excluding Early, they shot 3 of 19 (15.7 percent) after the break.

''That was a painful second half,'' coach Gregg Marshall said. ''We're going to get after it (in practice). That was an endless string of gaffes.''

Marshall hopes to have his squad back on track as it looks to extend the longest winning streak in program history. Wichita State can also move past the 1985-86 Bradley team for the third-longest run by an MVC school.

Although no team has entered the NCAA tournament with an unblemished record since UNLV in 1991, sophomore guard Fred VanVleet said the Shockers have started to think about being the next to do so.

''Now it does (enter our minds), because you want to win the Valley,'' he said. ''So you want to win every Valley game.''

Evansville (10-12, 3-6) has dropped eight of nine on the road, but it thrived there Feb. 27 when it stunned Wichita State 59-56 to snap an 11-game skid at Koch Arena and earn the season series sweep. The Shockers haven't lost at home since, winning 13 straight by an average of 17.0 points.

Evansville also knocked then-No. 23 Wichita State from the Top 25 with a 71-67 home win last Jan. 13.

A reserve in 2012-13, Balentine totaled 17 points in those matchups, but his role in the offense has grown a bit since last season. The sophomore guard scored 43 points in a 95-81 loss to Northern Iowa on Wednesday and is averaging 23.0 on the season.

Wichita State's defeats in the Aces in 2012-13 were due in part to the struggles of Early, who totaled 26 points and shot 7 of 18 in the two games - 3 for 11 on Feb. 27. However, Early comes into this matchup on a roll, averaging 21.7 points and making 13 of 22 from 3-point range in his last three games.

Early's accuracy from beyond the arc could spell trouble for Evansville, which allowed the Panthers to make a school-record 17 3-pointers on 33 attempts Wednesday.

The Aces are scoring 70.8 points per game, but they'll be facing a Shockers team that is 10th in the country with an average of 59.2 allowed.

Evansville, which has alternated wins and losses in its last six contests, have a league-worst minus-2.0 rebounding margin. The Shockers, led by Early with 6.5 boards per game, top the MVC with a plus-8.6 margin.

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.

Missouri Valley
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Missouri St.5-315-655
Indiana St.5-310-10136
Illinois St.4-410-1082
So. Illinois3-411-9133
N. Iowa2-510-9129
American Athletic
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Wichita St.5-215-428
E. Carolina2-68-11297
So. Florida0-77-13302

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