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No. 5 Wichita State rolls to 21st consecutive victory

Jan 25, 2014, 10:32 PM EDT

marshall AP

In the aftermath of their run to the 2013 Final Four, many wondered what Gregg Marshall’s Wichita State Shockers would do for an encore. While they lost guard Malcolm Armstead from last season’s group many of the other key contributors returned, and to this point in the season those returnees have strung together 21 consecutive victories with their 78-61 win at Drake being the most recent.

Cleanthony Early led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds and as a team the Shockers shot 52.7% from the field, their best offensive performance since shooting 60% in a win over Southern Illinois in their Missouri Valley opener. Why were they able to shoot so well? The Shockers attacked the paint, scoring 32 of their 78 points in the painted area while also shooting 13-for-15 from the foul line.

Wichita State won comfortably in spite of a quiet night from point guard Fred Van Vleet, who shot 2-for-6 from the field and scored nine points to go along with five assists. However given the number of options at Marshall’s disposal, not to mention a stingy defense that ranks among the nation’s best, Wichita State can endure a quiet night from one of its best players. Wichita State scored 24 points off of 13 Drake turnovers, and when they’re allowed to convert those opportunities at that rate it’s incredibly difficult to beat the Shockers.

For some the news that Wichita State keeps on winning won’t move the meter, with the “reason” being that their conference isn’t as widely acclaimed as some other leagues that receive incredible amounts of attention. But to immediately dismiss Wichita State for that reason would be a mistake, as the Shockers are undoubtedly worthy of their lofty ranking.