NORMAL, Ill. (AP) Struggling to make shots from the field, No. 15 Wichita State had to find another way to win Saturday.
So that's what the Shockers did.
Ron Baker scored 19 points and Wichita State overcame poor shooting with fierce defense in holding off Illinois State for a 68-62 victory.
Fred VanVleet added 15 points and Evan Wessel scored 12 for the Shockers (23-3, 13-1 Missouri Valley Conference), who shot only 36.7 percent (18 of 49) from the floor. Wichita State was much better at the free throw line, making 27 of 32.
''That was a pretty good ballgame,'' Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. ''There was a lot of fight in both teams tonight. We certainly didn't shoot well, but neither did they. In the end, it didn't matter.''
DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell led Illinois State (15-11, 7-7) with 18 points, and Reggie Lynch added 10 points and eight rebounds. The Redbirds shot 41.5 percent from the floor (22 of 53) and were outrebounded 40-26.
Illinois State was 13 of 18 at the foul line. Both teams went 5 for 19 from 3-point range.
''They just plain killed us on the boards,'' Redbirds coach Dan Muller said. ''That and too many fouls lost the game for us, no question. We just could not get rebounds tonight.''
Tekele Cotton grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for the Shockers.
Wichita State started strong but went cold midway through the second half and scored only six points during a 9-minute stretch. The Redbirds picked up their play after halftime and kept the game tight, trimming an 11-point deficit to 53-51 with 4:57 left.
Wichita State slowed the tempo early and never trailed in the first half. The Shockers led 27-21 at the break.
VanVleet went down holding his right ankle late in the first half.
''Freddy rolled that ankle pretty good,'' Marshall said. ''But he's one of the toughest players I've ever coached. Most guys wouldn't have come back from that. But Freddy was back out there in less than a minute and ended up playing, what, something like 36 minutes on a bad wheel? I just hope it's not too swollen to play on next week.''
Wichita State: The Shockers are 46-10 on the road since 2010-11, the best record in the nation. They won a modern MVC-record 13 straight road games before losing to No. 18 Northern Iowa on Jan. 31. ... Wichita State has held opponents to 55.8 points per game this season, which ranks eighth in the country.
Illinois State: The Redbirds last defeated the Shockers at Redbird Arena on Dec. 29, 2009. Overall, however, the Redbirds hold a 22-12 advantage at home against Wichita State.
Illinois State's reserves outscored the Shockers' 23-6. Kyle McIntosh had nine points off the bench and John Jones had eight for the Redbirds.
Wichita State plays at Southern Illinois on Tuesday.
Illinois State plays at Bradley on Wednesday.