SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – So much for assuming this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Wichita State.
Cleanthony Early had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Carl Hall added 15 points and the 20th-ranked Shockers rallied for a 62-52 victory over Missouri State on Wednesday night.
The Bears, behind freshman Gavin Thurman, used a 19-1 run to take a 33-25 lead with 16:13 remaining in the game.
The Shockers came away empty on their first five possessions of the second half then Early and Hall got more active in the offense, scoring all but two of the points in a 16-2 run that gave Wichita State a 41-35 lead with 10:53 to go.
"We weren't going very strongly (in the first half). It didn't remind me of the guys I had seen on Saturday," said Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, referring to the Shockers win over Creighton. "But in the second half, they changed that."
The Shockers won despite their fourth-lowest scoring output of the season.
"There's going to be some physical play and there's going to be some holds and some grabs and some body-slamming in the Valley," Marshall added. "They've got to know that. That's what I told Cleanthony — I said, 'You're the new guy. This is the way we play, so you've got to adjust.'"
The Shockers (18-2, 7-1 Missouri Valley Conference), who were playing just days after upsetting then-No. 12 Creighton, remained in first place in the conference.
Thurman had 21 points to lead Missouri State (5-15, 3-5), which lost its fourth straight before a crowd of 6,448.
It was the third straight win for the Shockers, who were supposed to be in a rebuilding year after winning the conference regular-season title a year ago.
The Shockers won again without two injured starters, Ron Baker (foot) and Evan Wessel (hand). It was Hall's third game back since he missed seven games because of a broken thumb on his shooting hand.
"They just told me to run the floor, sit in and keep playing," Hall said.
He later added, "I was just trying to make stronger moves."
Missouri State trailed by 12 points with about 5:15 left before halftime, but Thurman took over game's next 9 minutes to take a 33-25 lead.
Thurman made two free throws and later hit a jumper after a timeout, got a steal before knocking down a 3-pointer and scored on a tip-in.
"I was playing off my energy. That was pretty much all I was doing," Thurman said. "I was trying to make that run last as long as possible."
The Shockers, who led the conference in scoring defense (60.1 points) and field goal percentage defense (39.5 percent), frustrated the Bears from there.
Marshall called for more switching of ball screens, a rare strategy, but got the desired results.
Wichita State made 20 of 54 shots (37 percent) and won despite making only 5 of 21 3-pointers. The Shockers were 17 of 22 at the free throw line.
Anthony Downing added 14 points for Missouri State, which was plagued by foul problems among its starters made 19 of 58 (32 percent) from the field.
"Although we did a good job on them defensively, things come easily for them," Missouri State coach Paul Lusk said. "They can just literally walk down the floor and pound it inside. Obviously, we don't have that luxury."
Early was key on quieting Thurman.
"I was playing off him a little bit, letting him get the ball," Early said. "I just tried to deny him the ball and be a little more physical."
Missouri State, plagued by foul problems by its starters, made 19 of 58 shots (32 percent). Anthony Downing added 14 points.