- Associated Press - Saturday, February 1, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Evansville coach Marty Simmons watched his young team race out to a big early lead on No. 4 Wichita State. Then he saw the Shockers slap on the press and come roaring right back.

It’s something they’ve done to plenty of teams this season.

D.J. Balentine had 26 points in another strong performance, but the Purple Aces were unable to hold onto an early 15-point lead and lost 81-67 at raucous Koch Arena on Saturday.

“It’s about the process. It’s about the possession. You start thinking like that,” Simmons said, when asked about getting comfortable with the big lead, “bad things are going to happen.”

They certainly happened quickly.

Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker scored 14 points apiece for undefeated Wichita State.

The Shockers’ comeback began when Baker scored with 8:12 remaining in the first half, starting a 27-4 run spanning halftime and turning a 15-point deficit into a 41-33 lead.

The charge was fueled by a three-quarter-court pressure that forced Evansville into several turnovers, the only time that a team starting two freshmen and three sophomores looked shaky.

“When they’re making their run, it’s like pouring gasoline on the fire,” Simmons said with a shake of his head. “That’s something we have to learn from.”

It didn’t help that the Purple Aces were mired in foul trouble.

Duane Gibson and fellow guard Adam Wing each had three fouls by halftime, and four others had two fouls apiece. That included Balentine, who sat on the bench for the final couple of minutes so that he wouldn’t be tempted into picking up his own third foul.

The Purple Aces hung around until the midway point of the second half, when Evan Wessel’s basket began a run of seven straight points that gave the Shockers a 70-52 lead.

Wichita State never allowed the Purple Aces (10-13, 3-7) to get close the final 8 minutes, avenging two frustrating losses to them a year ago.

“The way they started, I said, ‘Oh boy, here we go again,’” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. “But we finally got stops. They missed a couple and we got out in transition.”

The Shockers (23-0, 10-0) rallied from a 19-point deficit to defeat Missouri State earlier this season, and have often found themselves suffering through long stretches of poor play only to come out unscathed by the final buzzer.

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