Early leads No. 23 Shockers over Southern Illinois
WICHITA ST 82, SOUTHN ILLINOIS 76
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Cleanthony Early had a hard time wrapping
his head around what he accomplished Wednesday night.
Early scored 39 points - the most for a Wichita State player in
over 27 years - and the No. 23 Shockers beat Southern Illinois
82-76 two days after returning to the national rankings.
Early's point total was the highest for the Shockers since
All-America and future NBA star Xavier McDaniel scored 44 in
"No, no, not really," Early said when asked if he realized how
close he came to McDaniel. "I respect him, though, respect him
for doing that. I know he was the man."
Wichita State (15-1, 4-0 Missouri Valley) needed everything
Early could do as Southern Illinois rode a hot-shooting first
half to keep it close into the final minute.
Desmar Jackson scored 28 points and Anthony Beane added 14 for
the Salukis (7-8, 0-4).
Ehime Orupke had 10 points and nine rebounds for Wichita State,
which has won 16 straight games at home.
"That was the main thing ... to get that W, keep this thing
rolling," Early said. "We want to keep this going."
The Salukis have lost nine straight Missouri Valley games,
dating back to last season, but had a nine-point lead starting
the second half.
It seemed to evaporate in the blink of an eye, and coach Barry
Hinson was concerned enough to call two time-outs in the second
half's first 76 seconds.
That didn't stop Wichita State from scoring the first 10 points
after halftime, capped by Early's three-point play that gave the
Shockers a 44-43 lead and preceded Hinson's second time-out.
The Salukis stemmed the tide for a bit, leading 50-49 with 16
minutes to play. But Wichita State then scored eight straight,
including an Orupke slam.
"Those first five minutes were huge," Orupke said. "After that
first half, we needed all the energy we could get."
After Hinson called his final time-out of the game, with 14:03
remaining, Southern Illinois scored five straight before the
Shockers answered with two Tekele Cotton hustle baskets and
Early's jumper for a 63-55 lead with 9:45 remaining.
"They wanted to win as bad as we did," Cotton said. "It seemed
like we kept needing one more stop."
Wichita State pushed the lead to 10 soon after, but Southern
Illinois stayed in it. Jalen Pendleton's basket with 3:15
remaining cut Wichita State's lead to 73-69.
It was still a four-point game in the final minutes when two
Wichita State turnovers gave the Salukis a chance. Beane drew a
foul and made two free throws with 29.7 seconds on the clock to
cut the Southern Illinois deficit to 78-76.
But free throws from Wichita State's Malcolm Armstead and an SIU
turnover sealed the victory for the Shockers.
"Everyone will talk about our good first half," Hinson said,
"but that second half, to get down 10 and get back in it was the
best thing we did. We never quit."
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