Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Shockers achieve perfection

WICHITA, Kan. — The chant started when Ron Baker walked toward the Wichita State bench for the final time and reached a crescendo when he popped the front of his jersey: No. 31.

As in, 31-0. A perfect regular season.

"Undefeated!" the sellout crowd roared in unison. "Undefeated!"

Baker had 13 points, Cleanthony Early led the way with 19 and the second-ranked Shockers rolled to a 68-45 victory over Missouri State on Saturday, becoming the first team since St. Joseph's in 2004 to enter its conference tournament unbeaten.

Wichita State (18-0 in the league) has a first-round bye in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament this week.

"My teammates told me a couple weeks ago that my number was something special because that's how many games we could potentially win," Baker said. "I didn't put that together myself, but it's very special. It's going to be something I look back on forever."

Missouri State had the Shockers in trouble when they met Jan. 11 in Springfield, Mo., but the Bears squandered a 19-point second-half lead and lost 72-69 in overtime.

They never came close to making it a game Saturday, trailing by double digits in the opening minutes and rarely trimming their deficit to fewer than 20 points in the second half.

The result is the best start since UNLV began 34-0 and lost in the 1991 national semifinal. Wichita State is also off to the best start by a Missouri Valley team since Indiana State, led by Larry Bird, won its first 33 games and fell to Michigan State in the 1979 title game.

"It seems like the season started about three weeks ago as opposed to months ago," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "It's been incredible. They've met every challenge."

Cavs clinch ACC title

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Malcolm Brogdon talked before No. 12 Virginia's final home game about making it a success for seniors Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell and even former walk-on Thomas Rogers, the first building blocks in Tony Bennett's remaking of the Cavaliers.

Brogdon made sure his teammates left happy. He scored 17 of his career-high 19 in the second half, including eight in a decisive run that sent Virginia to a 75-56 victory over No.  4 Syracuse.

The Cavaliers (25-5, 16-1) won their 13th game in a row and secured their first outright ACC regular-season championship in 33 years.

"Super exciting," Brogdon, a redshirt sophomore, said of watching the final seconds tick off the clock with students poised to charge the court despite pleas from the public address announcer that they stay put. "You could do nothing but smile at that point when you beat a good team like that and you're having success like we're having. It's surreal, when you think about it."

Syracuse (26-3, 13-3) lost for the third time in four games.

OKLA. ST. 72, NO. 5 KANSAS 65: Marcus Smart scored 20 of his 21 in the second half for the host Cowboys, who rallied past the Big 12 champion Jayhawks (22-7, 13-3) to boost their once-fading NCAA Tournament hopes.

NO. 21 MEMPHIS 72, NO. 7 L'VILLE 66: Chris Crawford hit a 3-pointer with 1:36 left to put the host Tigers (22-7, 11-5 American Athletic) ahead to stay as they swept the season series from Louisville (24-5, 13-3).

XAVIER 75, NO. 9 CREIGHTON 69: Justin Martin had 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, and the host Musketeers led most of the way against the Bluejays (23-5, 13-3 Big East), who made only 10 of 34 3-pointers.

VCU 67, NO. 10 ST. LOUIS 56: Treveon Graham had 17 points and eight rebounds for the host Rams, who added a quality win to their NCAA Tournament resume by handing the Billikens (25-4, 12-2 Atlantic 10) their second straight loss.

UCONN 51, NO. 11 UC 45: Shabazz Napier had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the host Huskies, who went without a field goal for the final 71/2 minutes but held the Bearcats (24-5, 13-3 American Athletic) to 13 of 48 shooting.

KANSAS ST. 80, NO. 15 IOWA ST. 73: Shane Southwell had 13 points for the host Wildcats, who overcame a 30-point, 16-rebound performance by Melvin Ejim for the Cyclones (22-6, 10-6 Big 12).

NO. 16 MICH. 66, MINN. 56: Nik Stauskas scored 21 and Glenn Robinson III provided an emotional lift with his dunks as the host Wolverines (21-7, 13-3) clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title. Michigan would clinch its first outright conference title since 1986 with a win Tuesday at Illinois or Saturday at home against Indiana.

S.C. 72, NO. 17 KENTUCKY 67: Brenton Williams scored 24 for host South Carolina, which held off a furious rally by the Wildcats (21-8, 11-5 SEC) after coach John Calipari was ejected midway through the second half.

ILLINOIS 53, NO. 18 MICH. ST. 46: Tracy Abrams scored 12 for the visiting Illini, who have three straight victories for the first time since winning four in a row from Dec. 21-Jan. 4. The Spartans (22-7, 11-5 Big Ten) have lost two straight and six of 10.

NO. 19 UNC 60, VA. TECH 56: James Michael McAdoo scored 15 to lead the visiting Tar Heels (22-7, 12-4 ACC) to their 11th straight victory since starting conference play 1-4.

NO. 23 SMU 70, UCF 55: Markus Kennedy scored 18 and the host Mustangs (23-6, 12-4 American Athletic) took another step toward their first NCAA Tournament berth in 21 years by routing the Knights (11-16, 3-13).

OKLA. 77, NO. 24 TEXAS 65: Isaiah Cousins scored a career-high 24 for the host Sooners (21-8, 10-6), who tied the Longhorns (21-8, 10-6) for second place in the Big 12.

MORGAN ST. 65, B-CU 61: Ian Chiles scored 23 for the host Bears, who held off a second-half surge by the Wildcats (6-23, 4-11 MEAC).

LYNN 74, ECKERD 62: Josh Snodgrass scored 17 for the visiting Tritons (15-13, 7-9 Sunshine State), who lost their third straight to end the regular season.

SAINT LEO 81, NOVA SE 68: Jerrel Harris had 22 points and Ron Foxx 19 for the host Lions (22-7, 10-6 SSC) in their regular-season finale.

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