Wichita State posts first 30-0 regular season
PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Ron Baker scored 15 points to lead four Wichita State players in double figures and the second-ranked Shockers became the first Division I team to reach 30-0 in the regular season with a 69-49 victory over Bradley on Tuesday night.
Wichita State is the 11th team to reach 30-0, the previous 10 all hitting the 30-win mark during postseason play. The last team to reach 30-0 was UNLV in 1990-91. The Runnin’ Rebels went 34-0 that season before losing to Duke in the national semifinals.
The Shockers (30-0, 17-0 Missouri Valley Conference) has one more regular-season game, at home Saturday against Missouri State. The last team to finish a regular season unbeaten was Saint Joseph’s in 2003-04 at 27-0. The next season, Illinois got to 29-0 before losing its regular-season finale at Ohio State.
A barrage of 3-pointers early in the second half broke it open for Wichita State, which beat Bradley (12-18, 7-10) for the 10th straight time and second this season.
After Bradley trimmed a 10-point halftime deficit to eight, Shockers point guard Fred VanVleet made consecutive 3s for a 14-point lead, the visitors’ largest to that point. By the 12:50 mark, Cleanthony Early had added a 3-pointer and Baker made two 3s off screens for a 50-32 lead.
Wichita State finished the game 11 of 21 from beyond the arc, with four players making two or more. Bradley was 4 of 14.
Tyshon Pickett finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds for Bradley after nearly reaching a double-double in the first half with 10 points and nine rebounds. Pickett was just 5-of-20 from the field and leading scorer Walt Lemon Jr. was 6 for 20 and had 18 points.
Miserable shooting prevented Bradley from mounting much of a threat. The Braves were at 25 percent (11 for 44) through 30 minutes and finished 16 for 59 (27.1 percent).
Bradley was playing host to its highest-ranked opponent since 1982, when then-No. 2 Wichita State lost 55-47 to the Braves who went on to win the NIT.
The Shockers led 35-25 at halftime after holding the Braves to 8-of-34 shooting (23.5 percent).
The game was a matchup of the top two defensive teams in the conference, though Wichita State (60.8 points per game) leads Bradley (65.5) comfortably. Offensively, Wichita State is also the MVC’s best (75.8) while Bradley (63.8) is last.
The No. 2 ranking equals the highest ranking in Wichita State history, matching the 1981-82 team.