Cleanthony Early scored 18 points after a slow first half -- a half slow for both Early and the rest of his teammates -- and the No. 8 Wichita State Shockers remained undefeated with a 67-53 win over the Northern Iowa Panthers on Sunday.
Wichita State is now 15-0, one of seven Division I undefeated teams. Northern Iowa is No. 90 in KenPom.com's team ratings, one of two other Missouri Valley Conference teams Wichita State will play that's inside the top 100 (Indiana State is No. 60). The Shockers still have a game at Northern Iowa on Feb. 8, and they have a home-and-home against the Sycamores still on tap.
The Shockers held Northern Iowa to 33.9 percent shooting, not nearly enough considering Wichita State's six total turnovers (two were in the final minute of the game) and 43-40 rebounding advantage.
Fred VanVleet led all scorers with 22 points for the Shockers.
The Panthers took an early lead Saturday, earning a 10-point margin at 12-2 and holding a two-possession lead as late as 19-14 with 6:44 to play until halftime. That's when the Shockers clamped down. They scored the next 12 points unanswered in a span of less than three minutes, scoring on five consecutive possessions while forcing Northern Iowa into a shot-clock violation and a host of bad shots that the Shockers rebounded.
By halftime, Wichita State led 30-22, and Northern Iowa had missed its last nine 3-point attempts of the half.
The Panthers got as close as 43-39 with just over 12 minutes to play, but Wichita State answered with six straight points, and Northern Iowa would get no closer than seven points after that.