Evansville upsets No. 23 Wichita State

Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- With considerable help from turnover-prone Wichita State, Colt Ryan shot Evansville to an upset Sunday.
Ryan's 24 points, combined with a season-high 22 turnovers from the No. 23 Shockers, lifted the Purple Aces to a 71-67 Missouri Valley Conference win at the Ford Center.
Ryan also doled out eight assists, the last coming on Ned Cox's 3-pointer with 1:47 left, which gave Evansville (11-6, 4-1) a 64-58 advantage. The Aces survived 7-of-12 foul shooting in the final 85 seconds to earn their fourth straight win. The Aces came into the game converting 74.8 percent from the foul line.
"It feels good to finally get one of these ranked teams," said Ryan, whose team had lost their first three games against top-25 opponents this season. "Wichita State's a great team; it's always a good feeling to beat them."
Malcolm Armstead had 21 points for Wichita State (15-2, 4-1), which fell out of a first-place tie in the Valley with Creighton. Cleanthony Early, who fired in a career-high 39 points in a Wednesday night win over Southern Illinois, added 16 before fouling out with 31.9 seconds left.
But the Shockers, who have survived the loss of three starters during a six-game winning streak that pushed them into the top 25 for the second time this season, couldn't overcome sloppy ballhandling. Armstead and Demetric Williams each committed five turnovers, and Evansville cashed in, racking up a 27-9 margin in points off turnovers.
"We just weren't strong enough with the ball," Williams said.
"I don't know what we were doing on some of those turnovers," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "A few of those, we just turned and threw it right to Evansville. But we still had a shot in the air to tie it at the end and I'm proud of the guys for that."
Wichita State had a chance to force overtime, but reserve forward Jake White missed a long 3-pointer from the right wing with less than 10 seconds left. Lewis Jones wrapped it up with a foul shot with four seconds remaining, and Aces players shook hands with some of the crowd of 5,485 as they walked off the floor.
The first half turned into a shootout between Ryan and Armstead, who took up the slack for Wichita State after Early picked up two early fouls and played just six minutes.
Ryan worked around a series of screens, running curl after curl en route to 13 first-half points. Armstead, an Oregon transfer, lit it up for 15, including three 3-pointers.
But it was a slick Ryan pass to freshman center Egidijus Mockevicius for a layup with 9.8 seconds remaining in the half that sent Evansville to the locker room with a 32-31 lead.
The Shockers were on the verge of taking control in the second half when Early scored seven points in an 83-second span, capped by a deep 3-pointer from the left wing, to give them a 50-45 lead with 10:52 left. But the 6-foot-10 Mockevicius turned the momentum by rejecting a Nick Wiggins dunk, which would have stretched the margin to seven.
Gradually reeling Wichita State back in, the Aces effected the day's 16th and final lead change on Ryan's free throws with 4:48 left. Ryan then drilled a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer from the right side for a 61-56 edge at the 3:12 mark.
"He's a very good player," Marshall said of Ryan. "He shoots the ball beautifully, and he's a very good passer. We worked hard to defend him, but he's a dynamic scorer."
Troy Taylor contributed 12 points and a team-high six rebounds for Evansville, while Cox scored 10. The Aces drew assists on 15 of their 22 made field goals and committed just nine turnovers.
"What I saw out there today was a team which played very unselfishly," Evansville coach Marty Simmons said. "We have such respect for Wichita State. To have the guys injured like they've had and still win six straight just tells you they do things the right way. That's why this is such a good win for us."
Notes: Wichita State hasn't been outrebounded in a game this season and wasn't again in this one, owning a 36-21 advantage. The Shockers have won the board battle in 66 of their last 76 games ... Ryan became the 27th player in Valley history to go over 1,800 points for his career in Wednesday night's win at Northern Iowa ... Wichita State forward Carl Hall, the team's second-leading scorer who's been out nearly a month with a thumb injury, could return next week.

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