St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Fresh off a perfect regular season, the second-ranked Wichita State Shockers started their quest for a third Missouri Valley Conference Tournament crown with an 80-58 rout of the Evansville Purple Aces in Friday's quarterfinals.
The Shockers (32-0) ran through the regular season a perfect 31-0, including an 18-0 ledger in league play, to become the first team since the 2003-04 Saint Joseph's squad to enter the postseason undefeated.
Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker each had 17 points for Wichita State, which reached the Final Four last year and is trying for its first MVC tourney title since 1987.
Tekele Cotton and Chadrack Lufile tallied 11 points apiece for the Shockers, who will face Missouri State in the semifinals on Saturday. Kadeem Coleby had six of Wichita State's 11 blocks.
"I love how this team goes about their business and their approach, how it's just -- how resolute they are in just next challenge, let's get the game plan," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "How do you guys want us to defend this screen, this cut, and they just do it. They're really, really focused and locked in with the next challenge, and that's how you win 32 in a row."
D.J. Balentine ended with 31 points for the Purple Aces (14-19), who failed to build off an opening round win over Drake on Thursday.
Evansville actually held a 20-19 lead with 8:18 left in the first half, but Early responded with a rare four-point play to spark a 21-7 Wichita State run. Darius Carter capped the surge with a free throw to make it a 40-27 contest.
Wichita State took a 41-31 margin into the locker room before putting the game away early in the second half.
Holding a 44-36 edge, the Shockers put together a 13-0 run. Fred VanVleet tallied seven points during the burst, including a four-point play that made it 57-36 with 14:24 remaining.
Wichita State led by as many as 25 down the stretch.
"Fantastic, fantastic to see what they're doing right now," Balentine said. "They're a team of history. They're 32-0 right now. They're, if not the best team out there -- if people say they don't deserve the Number 1 seed going into the NCAA Tournament, I think that's silly. They really deserve it. Very good team."
The Shockers defeated the Purple Aces twice during the regular season by a combined 30 points ... Wichita State is two wins shy of matching the NCAA record of 34 wins in a row by UNLV in 1990-91 ... Egidijus Mockevicius had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Purple Aces ... Wichita State shot 50.9 percent from the field and went 10-of-21 from beyond the arc.