The odds of No. 6 Wichita State making it to March undefeated just got a little bit better.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d still bet everything I own against the Shockers making it through the Valley unscathed. You don’t make it through the Valley unscathed. You just don’t.
But if anyone is going to do it, it’s going to be this Wichita State team in this Missouri Valley, which is in a real down year. And their path got just that much easier on Saturday night, as Gregg Marshall’s club went into Springfield and knocked off Missouri State, 72-69, in overtime.
The Bears are one of the most talented teams in the league this season and — along with Indiana State and Northern Iowa — one of the toughest road environments that the Shockers will face this season. The Shockers survived, but it certainly wasn’t easy. Missouri State jumped out to a 42-24 lead at the half and pushed that lead to 54-35 with 12 minutes left in regulation.
That’s when Wichita State began their run, outscoring Missouri State 29-10 over that stretch to force the extra frame. Cleanthony Early led the way with 22 points and 14 boards, while Fred VanVleet finished with 16 points and four assists in an off night. Ron Baker chipped in with 15 points.
Wichita State is now 17-0. They hold Bradley and Indiana State next week and visit Illinois State and Drake the week after that. In fact, the Shockers may not truly be tested like this again for another four weeks, when they visit both Indiana State and Northern Iowa in the span of four days.