The Wichita Eagle, Jaime Green
February 22, 2015

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) With his team struggling on offense, Wichita State point guard Fred VanVleet took over.

''Our offense was stagnant, but it wasn't because of mistakes,'' VanVleet said. ''We were getting good looks, the shots weren't falling. We missed bunnies. Mine were going in.''

Indeed, VanVleet scored 18 of his 22 points in a decisive first half as No. 13 Wichita State coasted past Evansville 62-43 on Sunday.

Ron Baker had 18 points and 15 rebounds for Wichita State (25-3, 15-1 Missouri Valley). Evan Wessel added 11 points for the Shockers, who have led for 32 or more minutes in 12 of their 13 games.

Egidijus Mockevicius had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead Evansville (19-9, 9-7). Mockevicius was 5 of 7 from the floor while the rest of the Aces were 10 of 41.

Evansville entered the game averaging 70.9 points, tied with Wichita State for the conference lead.

''Their pressure took us out of our screens, our cuts, our passes,'' Aces coach Marty Simmons said. ''We took as many bad shots as we have all season.''

The effects were evident in the first half. D.J. Balentine's basket pulled Evansville within 9-6 with 13:10 remaining in the half, the Aces made just one field goal the rest of the half.

Evansville entered the game shooting 48.9 percent for the season, 11th best nationally.

In the first half, the Aces were 4 of 22 - 18 percent.

''With their motion offense, it's about trying to pressure them, disrupt their timing,'' VanVleet said. ''We did a good job of that.''

Evansville could not even keep pace with VanVleet. He combined with Baker to score the Shockers' first 14 points.

When Wichita State's offense bogged down midway through the first half - one basket in a six-minute span - VanVleet took control.

He hit a 3-pointer with 5:41 remaining in the first half for a 21-11 lead.

With 3:19 to play, he crossed over two Evansville defenders and knocked down a jumper. Less than a minute later, he sank a contested, high-arching 17-footer.

''He hit some tough shots,'' Simmons said. ''That kid's a winner. All the superlatives you can give a player, I'd give to that guy.''

When the Shockers had the ball in the final seconds, VanVleet's teammates just stayed out of the way. His step- back 16-footer settled in the basket as the buzzer sounded.

VanVleet had 18 points, and Wichita State had a 30-14 halftime lead.

''Fred's a dynamite competitor, and it showed,'' Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said.

Evansville started making shots in the second half but never really threatened. Consecutive layups by Blake Simmons and Balentine cut the Shockers' lead to 30-18.

But Wessel scored five straight points to start a quick 10-1 Wichita State run. Baker finished it off with a 3-pointer and layup, forcing an Evansville time-out with 13:40 remaining and the Shockers leading 40-19.

While scoring 18 points was nothing new, the 15 rebounds were surprising for Baker. It was his first career double-double.

VanVleet had eight rebounds.

''Those are some numbers I don't fool around with a lot,'' Baker said. ''I think it was because Evansville has good shooters. A lot of the misses were coming off the rim soft, right by the basket. And when Fred and I can get rebounds, save a pass, we can get to the offensive end pretty quick.''

HE PASSES, TOO: VanVleet's shooting made the headlines Sunday, but he made history another way. With a no-look pass to Rashard Kelly in the second half, VanVleet's fifth assist of the game, the junior guard became Wichita State's career leader in assists with 431. He passed Warren Armstrong (429 from 1965-68) and Toure Murry (430 from 2008-12) during the game.

VanVleet said passing Murry, who he called ''a good mentor'' helped make it even more special.

''When you think about all the great players that have gone through here, it's a great accomplishment for me and our team,'' VanVleet said.

TIP-INS:

Evansville: The Aces are still trying to reach 20 wins for the first time since the 1998-99 season. ... Evansville is 1-13 in its last 14 games at Wichita State. . When Mockevicius attempts eight field goals or more, Evansville is 12-1. ... Balentine entered the game averaging 19.4 points to rank among the nation's top 30. He finished with eight points on 2-of-10 shooting.

Wichita State: Freshman guard Zach Brown returned after missing four games with a concussion. ... The Shockers scored 43 seconds into the game, snapping a streak of four straight games with points in the first 30 seconds. ... Wichita State has won 31 straight at home, the fourth longest active streak nationally.

UP NEXT

Evansville: travels to No. 11 Northern Iowa on Wednesday.

Wichita State: travels to Indiana State on Wednesday.

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