WICHITA — Fred VanVleet had 22 points and seven rebounds and No. 5 Wichita State remained undefeated with a 72-50 victory over Bradley on Tuesday night.
Darius Carter added 11 points for the Shockers (18-0, 5-0 Missouri Valley Conference), who extended school records for winning streak and best start to a season in the first game as a top 5 team since 1981.
After overcoming a 19-point, second-half deficit in its last game, Wichita State took any mystery out of this game pretty quickly.
Walt Lemon scored 12 points, Tyshon Pickett added 11 and Omari Grier had 10 for Bradley (6-12, 1-4). Those three were a combined 12 of 37 from the field.
The Shockers’ two leading scorers, Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker, combined for just 13 points in 40 minutes, and it didn’t really matter.
Bradley pulled within 15-14 on 3-pointer with 8:27 remaining in the first half. But the Braves made just one field goal over the next 5 minutes, allowing Wichita State to pull away. A 3-pointer by Baker keyed a 10-0 run. Minutes later, VanVleet scored five straight points to give the Shockers a 32-18 lead.
After Bradley’s Mason Alwan made a layup, the Shockers’ Derail Green took over.
That was quite unexpected as Green had played in just 12 games this season, logging more than 5 minutes only twice. He entered Tuesday’s game averaging less than a point.
But given early playing time due to Evan Wessel’s ankle injury, Green shined. He hit a 3-pointer, two free throws and another 3-pointer in a span of 62 seconds, pushing Wichita State’s lead to 40-20 with 1:35 left in the half.
The Shockers did not take long to improve on a 40-23 halftime lead. Four free throws by Chadrack Lufile and a three-point play from VanVleet made it 47-23 with 17:47 remaining.
Wichita State’s lead was so comfortable, walk-on John Simon, who had played a total of 23 minutes this season, entered the game with more than 13 minutes remaining.
The Shockers’ lead continued to grow. A 3 by VanVleet with 5:59 remaining gave Wichita State a 70-38 lead, and the Shockers cruised to their eighth straight win over the Braves.
VanVleet was 7 of 10 from the field and has scored at least 16 points in four of Wichita State’s last five games.
Bradley had not played a conference game against a top 5 opponent since an 82-80 overtime loss at No. 4 Louisville on Jan. 4, 1975.