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Early converted a three-point play with 15:47 to put them ahead 44-43, the seventh lead change in the game. Baker added a silky-smooth jumper, then knocked down his first 3 moments later as Wichita State took control and Koch Arena suddenly got rocking.

Beane refused to let the Salukis wilt under the pressure.

The sophomore guard kept slicing through Wichita State’s man-to-man defense for baskets near the rim, more than once drawing contact along the way. When the Shockers finally clamped down on him, he deftly found the open teammate for wide-open looks.

Jalen Pendleton’s three-point play pulled the Salukis to 69-64 with 2½ minutes left, but Baker answered with his third 3-pointer. The Shockers turned up the pressure and forced Sean O’Brien into a turnover that led to a run-out by Baker, who was fouled and made both free throws.

Still with a chance to make it a game, Southern Illinois promptly turned it over again, and this time the Salukis allowed VanVleet to go for an uncontested layup that made it 76-64.

Wichita State merely had to coax the final seconds off the clock to remain undefeated.

“It’s cool, you know?” Early said. “But we take it game by game, day by day. I don’t think we’re looking at an undefeated season because you have to beat the team that’s in front of you.”