WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita State will carry its pursuit of perfection into the Missouri Valley tournament.
Cleanthony Early scored 19 points, Ron Baker added 13 and the second-ranked Shockers rolled to a 68-45 victory over Missouri State on Saturday, easily putting away a team that had given them fits this season.
Relying on the same stubborn defense that carried it on last year’s improbable March run, Wichita State (31-0, 18-0) became the first team since Saint Joseph’s in 2004 to enter its league tournament unbeaten. The Shockers will have a first-round bye in St. Louis next week.
Missouri State (19-11, 9-9) had them in trouble when they met Jan. 11 in Springfield, Mo., but the Bears blew a 19-point second-half lead and ultimately lost 72-69 in overtime.
They never came close to making it a game Saturday, trailing by double-digits in the opening minutes.
No. 1 FLORIDA 79, LSU 61
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Dorian Finney-Smith scored 16 points, and top-ranked Florida used a season-high 13 3-pointers to extend its school-record winning streak to 21 games.
Casey Prather and Michael Frazier II added 14 points apiece for the Gators, who also won their 31st straight at home.
This one was never in doubt.
Florida (27-2, 16-0 Southeastern Conference) scored the first eight points, opened up a double-digit lead with consecutive 3-pointers from DeVon Walker and Finney-Smith and put the game away early in the second half with a flurry of points in the paint.
Johnny O’Bryant III led the Tigers (17-11, 8-8) with 18 points. Jordan Mickey added 14 points and 10 rebounds for LSU, which lost its seventh straight on the road.
No. 12 VIRGINIA 76, No. 4 SYRACUSE 56
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Malcolm Brogdon scored eight of his 19 points during a decisive second-half run and No. 12 Virginia clinched the top seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.