TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Cleanthony Early scored 19 points and Tekele Cotton added 14 as No. 4 Wichita State remained unbeaten with a 65-58 victory at Indiana State on Wednesday night.
The Shockers (24-0, 11-0 Missouri Valley) extended their school-record winning streak and improved to 11-0 in conference play for the first time in school history. They have won three straight in the series.
The only undefeated team in Division I is No. 2 Syracuse (22-0).
Manny Arup had 16 points and Jake Odum added 11 for Indiana State (17-6, 8-3) which couldn’t avoid a rare home loss. The Sycamores were 8-0 at home this season and fell to 40-11 at the Hulman Center under fourth-year coach Greg Lansing. Four of those losses have come to the Shockers.
Wichita State led 50-39 with 12:34 to go. Indiana State got as close as 58-56 with 2:01 to go but the Sycamores missed four of eight free throws down the stretch.
It was the first time a team ranked this high played in Terre Haute since Larry Bird’s Sycamores were ranked No. 1 during the 1978-79 season.
And the festive crowd couldn’t wait.
Students began lining up more than two hours before tip-off despite chilly temperatures and 6 inches of new snow. When they got inside, almost every fan in the building was decked out in blue. But on the court, the emotions took a toll.
The Sycamore shooters struggled, making just 32.1 percent.
Wichita State, meanwhile, didn’t look sluggish at all despite having its arrival delayed until midday Wednesday by the winter storm.
Instead, they started fast and finished it off by scoring the final seven points to pull away.
In between, the Sycamores played valiantly.
They fought back from an early deficit to get within 36-35 at halftime, and opened the second half by taking a 37-36 lead.
The Shockers fended off that challenge with defense. It forced six straight missed shots and went on a 14-2 run to take its biggest lead of the game, 50-39 with 12:34 to play.
But when Indiana State heated up again, it stormed back. The Sycamores scored eight straight to close to 52-50 just 3½ minutes later and got as close as 58-56 late. They had a chance to tie it, but Justin Gant was too far underneath the basket for a layup. Indiana State never got another chance to tie it because of the missed free throws.