It was the Cleanthony Early show on Friday night as the No. 1 Wichita State Shockers disposed of the No. 16 Cal Poly Mustangs with ease, 64-37.
#1 Wichita State remains undefeated! They roll past #16 Cal Poly, 64-37! #MarchMadness— FOX Sports Live (@FOXSportsLive) March 22, 2014
Early got hot right out of the gates and didn't let up, making mincemeat of the Mustangs defense until he was substituted out with the game in-hand. In 28 minutes on the floor, the forward poured in 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds.
According to a tweet from Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports, Early was outscoring everyone by halftime:
Wichita State's Cleanthony Early is outscoring his teammates, and Cal-Poly, by same margin: 19 to 13.— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelCBS) March 22, 2014
Shockers guard Fred Van Vleet took a complementary role to the red-hot Early. He only scored four points in the contest, but was instrumental in setting up Wichita State's offense, recording eight assists against zero turnovers.
The Shockers' defense also didn't disappoint, holding Cal Poly to 20.7 percent shooting. The Mustangs weren't afforded any breathing room against such a stout defensive unit, forcing up contested shots from the opening whistle.
Cal Poly didn't get many second-chance opportunities, either, as Wichita State won the battle of the boards 46-34.
Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland tweeted his opinion of the lopsided game:
This Wichita state-Cal Poly game is awful. friends.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) March 22, 2014
By the end of the first half, the Shockers led by a score of 32-13, prompting a new Twitter hashtag from Cal Poly beat writer Joshua D. Scroggin:
As the second half began, it was immediately clear that Wichita State had no desire in taking its foot off the gas pedal. Amazingly, Early maintained his points lead over Cal Poly well into the second half, according to the official NCAA March Madness Twitter account:
Cleanthony Early 19, Cal Poly 17. #MarchMadness— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 22, 2014
Seth Davis of CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated put it best, tweeting:
This Providence-UNC game is highly entertaining. Nice to see some made baskets! Wichita State going Wichita State vs Cal Poly.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 22, 2014
After another solid half of basketball, the Shockers emerged victorious and became the first team in NCAA history to reach the 35-0 mark in a single season, according to ESPN College Basketball's Twitter account:
1-seed Wichita State becomes the first team to go 35-0 with a 64-37 rout of 16-seed Cal Poly. #MarchMadness— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 22, 2014
Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero heaped praise on the Shockers in the post-game press conference, according to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
The thing about Wichita State which we want to emulate most is they rarely, rarely take any plays off. They have very, very good players but they are dialed in, and I think that's what separates them.
In the same presser, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall expressed his excitement with his team's position going forward:
We were very, very focused. It had been a long time since we'd played and this team had our attention. It's been a great season thus far, 35-0 is awesome. Our goal is to get out of the weekend.
This win was yet another example of why Wichita State deserved the top seed in the Midwest region. While they will be getting a big step up in competition in the round of 32, this blowout victory should help dispel doubts about the Shockers' ability to make a run in the 2014 NCAA tournament.