Key statistics: Bradley made 16 of 59 shots and 4 of 14 three-pointers. WSU made 10 of 21 threes, 6 of 9 in the second half. The Braves grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in the first half. WSU limited them to five in the second and didn’t allow a second-chance point.
How the game turned: A three by Cleanthony Early started a 9-3 run that gave WSU a 50-32 lead wtih 12:57 to play. Ron Baker followed with two threes during the run. Bradley didn’t get closer than 13 the rest of the way.
Records: WSU 30-0, 17-0; Bradley 12-18, 7-10
- WSU sophomore Fred VanVleet celebrated his 20th birthday with his teammates and about 100 friends and family from Rockford, Ill. Carver Arena is a comfortable place for VanVleet, whose home is about 135 miles north. In high school, his team split games in Peoria to finish third in the state tournament. As a freshman, he enjoyed a breakout game of sorts, scoring eight points, one off his season high, in WSU win. On Tuesday, he scored 11 points, handed out four assists and made all three of his threes. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “This is one of the well-respected arenas in Illinois. There’s an aura.”
- The Shockers are used to a big gathering of road fans by now. Tuesday’s night’s following surpassed many, thanks to the Rockford crowd. But it wasn’t just VanVleet fans. Almost all of them stayed around to take pictures and talk with the Shockers on the Carver Arena floor after the game. It looked like a home game and WSU athletic director Eric Sexton tried, without a lot of luck, to urge some of the Shockers into the locker room so they could get moving toward the chartered plane.
- Count Tuesday’s game as another case of the opponent playing up to the Shockers. Bradley would not be looking at bottom-four finish if it played that hard each game. “I thought our guys played their guts out,” Bradley coach Geno Ford told reporters after the game. “I’m really proud of the physical effort that we gave. To hold them to seven offensive rebounds and only have six turnovers, we battled. We matched their physicality. The different was their late shot clock threes and their length at the basket.”
- WSU’s fourth straight win at Bradley is its longest streak in the series. WSU has won nine straight overall, also its longest win streak against the Braves. WSU trails Bradley 49-19 in Peoria and eight of those victories are since the 2002-03 season.
- WSU matched its 1983 team and 2004 Southern Illinois with 17 MVC wins. It can become the first MVC team to go unbeaten since Bradley went 16-0 in 1986 on Saturday. The only MVC team to go 18-0 was the 1927-28 Oklahoma team.
- WSU joined the MVC in 1945-46 and four teams since compiled unbeaten conference records: Oklahoma State (12-0) in 1945-46; Oklahoma State (10-0) in 1947-48; Indiana State (16-0) in 1978-79 and Bradley (16-0) in 1985-86.
Next up: vs. Missouri State, 1 p.m. Saturday (ESPN)