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Wichita State 82, Southern Illinois 62

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The notion that unbeaten Wichita State might stay that way when the calendar flips into March was not challenged Thursday night in SIU Arena.

With forward Cleanthony Early scoring a game-high 23 points and point guard Fred VanVleet adding 17, the No. 8 Shockers led by double figures for the last 29 minutes and 47 seconds of an 82-67 Missouri Valley Conference win over Southern Illinois.

Reserve guard Nick Wiggins contributed 13 points for Wichita State (14-0, 1-0), which shot 58.6 percent from the field and committed just one turnover in a dominant first half.

Freshman forward Sean O'Brien fired in a career-high 19 points and senior guard Desmar Jackson also scored 19 before fouling out for the Salukis (4-10, 0-1). Sophomore forward Jalen Pendleton came off the bench to toss in 16 points.

Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson returned to the bench after missing Sunday's loss at Miami-Ohio following the death of his son-in-law on Christmas Day. But his team could not replicate last February's dramatic upset of the Shockers, which blew a 17-point first-half lead in the process.

Wichita State established a 36-18 lead with 7:10 left in the first half when Wiggins, the older brother of Kansas freshman standout Andrew Wiggins, drained a long 3-pointer with the shot clock at two seconds.

That capped a stretch in which the Shockers scored on eight straight possessions, hitting eight of nine field goals. At that point, Wichita State was averaging 1.9 points per possession.

Hinson used three timeouts in an attempt to slow the Shockers, but they still pushed the lead to 42-22 at the 4:03 mark on a fast-break dunk by Early.

Jackson, who entered the game averaging 20.8 points, didn't score until 5:24 remained in the first half as he had trouble shaking free from Wichita State guard Tekele Cotton. Jackson finished the half with seven points, but the Shockers took a 49-32 lead into intermission.

NOTES: Wichita State is the highest-ranked team to play at SIU Arena since Larry Bird's Indiana State eked out a one-point win in 1979. ... F Jalen Pendleton is an accurate barometer of Southern Illinois' success this season. In the four games the Salukis have won, he's averaged 19.3 points and shot 61 percent from the field. In their nine losses before Thursday, he's averaged 9.2 points and hit 47 percent. ... The Shockers are 37-1 under coach Gregg Marshall when scoring 80 or more points, which they have done four times this season. Marshall-coached teams, counting his nine years at Winthrop, are 91-4 when reaching 80 points.

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