WICHITA, Kan. - Cleanthony Early led five Shockers in double figures with 16 points helping Wichita State earn a 74-62 conference victory over Illinois State.
Demetric Williams scored 14 points, Jake White added 11, and Malcolm Armstead and Nick Wiggins each had 10 in a balanced scoring effort for the Shockers.
Illinois State (9-9, 0-6) was led by Jackie Carmichael, the conference leader in rebounding and second-leading scorer, who had 22 points on 9-for-16 shooting and 9 rebounds.
Wichita State (16-2, 5-1) held Illinois State to six points and 17 percent shooting through the first 10 minutes of the game building a 15-6 lead with five different players connecting on a field goal.
Carmichael scored four of his 12 first half points during a 6-0 Redbird run to bring the visitors to within three at 15-12 before Wichita State junior Nick Wiggins ended a five-minute field goal drought with a 3-pointer from the right wing. Demetric Williams added another 3-pointer and a baseline jumper to push the Shocker lead to double digits, 24-14, with 3:26 remaining in the half.
Following a Carmichael baseline jumper with 2:02 remaining to bring the Redbirds within six, Wiggins nailed another 3-pointer that was followed by a steal from senior Malcolm Armstead whose outlet pass guided a streaking Williams in for a contested layup and forcing an Illinois State timeout.
Out of the Redbird timeout Armstead picked the pocket of John Wilkins and raced in for another layup to give the Shockers their biggest lead of the half, 31-18.
Illinois State ended the half shooting 24 percent and 0-for-10 from behind the arc. Wichita State shot 41 percent and was 5-for-11 from three. Wichita State also outrebounded the Redbirds 24-14.
The Redbirds opened the second half on an 11-7 run due in large part to five straight Wichita State possessions ending in a turnover. Carmichael continued to be the focal point of the Illinois State attack scoring six of the 11 Redbird points.
After two Tyler Brown free throws pulled the Redbirds to within seven, 38-31, with 13:12 remaining the Shockers went on a 15-4 run to put the game out of reach. Sophomore forward Jake White had five points during the decisive run and a Williams 3-pointer with 6:53 gave the Shockers their largest lead of the game, 56-37.
After a White layup with 2:50 remaining put the Shockers up 66-51, consecutive 3-pointers by Bryant Allen and Brown followed by an offensive rebound putback by John Wilkins got the Redbirds within seven with just under two minutes left.
A jumper by Tekele Cotton and a pair of free throws righted the Shockers over the final minutes to secure the victory.
The Shockers head into Saturday's showdown with conference rival Creighton reenergized by the return of senior forward Carl Hall. Hall returned to action after missing the past seven games with a broken right thumb to a standing ovation from the Wichita State crowd at the 16:31 mark of the first half. The preseason All-MVC team member helped the Shockers to a plus-8 rebounding advantage collecting a team-high 10 boards of his own in 23 minutes off the bench.
Tip for Saturday's game is set for 3 p.m. in Charles Koch Arena. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and Wichita State fans are encouraged to wear black.
- WICHITA STATE -