Wichita State vs. Bradley: Score, Grades and Analysis

Tim KeeneyContributor IFebruary 25, 2014

AP Images

Perfection is still intact. 

Wichita State's historic season continued on Tuesday night, as the Shockers improved to 30-0 with a comprehensive 69-49 victory over Bradley at Carver Arena. 

Greg Marshall's squad became the 11th school in college basketball history to win its first 30 games of the season. The 1990-91 UNLV squad was the last to accomplish the feat, while no one else has ever done it during the regular season as the Shockers now have. 

But their business isn't finished.

"It means a lot, it really does," point guard Fred VanVleet said, via STATS LLC (h/t CBS Sports). "It's something we didn't do last year. It's special, and we appreciate it. But, at the same time, we have more goals ahead of us."

En route to cementing itself in the record books, Wichita State turned in a complete performance to quiet the home crowd.

ESPN's Jimmy Dykes put it simply:

The Shockers were efficient on offense, shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from beyond the arc against the Missouri Valley Conference's fourth-best defensive team, per Ken Pomeroy's efficiency rankings.

Ron Baker led the way with 15 points as four players scored in double figures for the Shockers, who finished with 15 assists on 23 baskets. 

On the other side of the ball, hard-nosed, physical, suffocating defense has been Wichita State's calling card during this monumental streak, and that was no different on Tuesday. 

Tekele Cotton held Bradley leading scorer Walt Lemon Jr. to 18 points on 20 shots, Cleanthony Early and Chadrack Lufile controlled the interior and Bradley shot just 27.1 percent from the field. The Braves turned the ball over just six times and created several second chances with 16 offensive rebounds, but breaking down WSU in the half court simply wasn't an option. 

Bradley fought hard and stayed close for much of the first half, but as has been the case 29 other times this season, Wichita State proved to be too clinical, too deep, too balanced and too good. 


Player Grades

Cleanthony Early, Wichita State: B

Stephen Haas/Associated Press

Offensively, it wasn't Cleanthony Early's best game of the season. He shot just 3-of-11 from the field and 2-of-7 from beyond the arc on his way to 12 points. 

But he protected the rim (two blocks) and played tremendous defense throughout the game, assuming the role that was necessary as his teammates stepped up in other facets. 


Walt Lemon, Jr., Bradley: B-

Stephen Haas/Associated Press

It's during games like this where I'm sure Walt Lemon is happy he's a senior because he won't have to face Tekele Cotton anymore. 

Bradley's go-to shooter is an explosive athlete who is often able to get inside the lane at will. But with Cotton—one of America's best perimeter defenders—locking him up and Early, Lufile and Kadeem Coleby meeting him at the cup, Lemon struggled to get into any kind of a rhythm. 

He remained one of Bradley's only sources of offense against WSU's ultra-stingy defense, but he just kept shooting on a night when his shot wasn't falling, attempting more shots than points scored. 


Fred VanVleet, Wichita State: A

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

If you look at the box score, you probably won't be overwhelmed by Fred VanVleet's performance. He finished with 11 points and four assists. 

But he is just so steady. 

Those 11 points came on an efficient six shots (he knocked down all three of his three-point attempts), the four assists came with just one turnover even though he handled the ball for most of the game and he consistently made the right decisions. 

Wichita State is a balanced squad with several talented pieces, but you would be hard-pressed to find a player more important than VanVleet, who celebrated his 20th birthday in style on Tuesday night. 


Tyshon Pickett, Bradley: B

Stephen Haas/Associated Press

Tyshon Pickett is a grown man. 

At times, he looked a little bit erratic or out of control on the offensive end, and he finished just 5-of-20 from the field on his way to 13 points. Still, he used his size, athleticism and physical nature to battle underneath, finishing with 15 rebounds (eight offensive). 

You can say what you want about his offensive efficiency, but Pickett was not lacking in effort. 


What's Next

One more. Following this victory, the Shockers are one win away from becoming the first team since St. Joseph's (2003-04) to complete a perfect regular season. 

Saturday, they'll get Missouri State. The Bears took WSU to overtime in early January, but with this one at Charles Koch Arena, the Shockers will be strong favorites. 

Bradley finishes off its season at Drake before both teams prepare for the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Wichita State will have to remain undefeated through Arch Madness to have a shot at a No. 1 seed, while Bradley must run the table to go to the Big Dance.