Wichita, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Ron Baker totaled 19 points and five assists as No. 4 Wichita State remained unbeaten thanks to a second half surge, taking down Southern Illinois by a 78-67 count at Koch Arena.
Cleanthony Early contributed 18 points and four rebounds for the Shockers (26-0, 13-0 MVC), who take their unblemished record on the road in Evansville on Sunday.
Tekele Cotton and Darius Carter added 12 apiece for Wichita State, which shot better than 54 percent over the game's final 20 minutes to snag the victory.
Anthony Beane's game-high 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting wasn't enough for the Salukis (10-16, 6-7), whose four-game win streak came to an end. Jalen Pendleton came up with 13 points in a losing cause.
Trailing by four, Carter kicked off an important 22-9 surge with a three-point play to get his school within a point. Though Sean O'Brien gave the Salukis a 41-39 edge on a layup the next trip up the floor, Early hit a jumper and the resulting foul shot a short time later to give Wichita State the lead for good at 44-43.
Baker made two shots, the latter of which came from beyond the arc sandwiched around a Beane free throw, and the Shockers led 49-44. Early also connected from long distance and Carter finished the run on a jumper to open up a 57-48 advantage.
SIU was held at arm's length from there. The Salukis did manage to pull within 64-61 with 4:20 on the clock after Desmar Jackson's bucket, but Nick Wiggins connected from beyond the arc and Cotton hit a pair of free throws for an eight-point spread inside of three minutes to go.
Wichita State pushed its advantage to as high as 12 in the late stages.
Both sides played it close early on. The visitors opened up a 17-13 edge on a Beane jumper with 9:15 to play, and just over a minute later extended the advantage to 21-16 on a Pendleton layup. Early's two from the line capped a quick burst and pulled the Shockers even at 23-23, but the Salukis later led 32-28 after Beane's triple.
SIU shot 46.2 percent in the opening 20 minutes and took a slim edge 33-32 at the half
Beane was good from long distance and SIU was up 39-35 less than three minutes into the second half, but the bottom soon fell out.
Wichita State became the first program since Memphis in 2007-08 to win its first 26 games ... Southern Illinois connected on 24-of-51 field-goal attempts (47.1 percent) in defeat.