By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State will carry its pursuit of perfection into the Missouri Valley tournament.
Cleanthony Early scored 19 points, Ron Baker added 13 and the second-ranked Shockers rolled to a 68-45 victory over Missouri State on Saturday, easily putting away a team that had given them fits this season.
Relying on the same stubborn defense that carried it on last year’s improbable March run, Wichita State (31-0, 18-0) became the first team since Saint Joseph’s in 2004 to enter its league tournament unbeaten. The Shockers will have a first-round bye in St. Louis next week.
Missouri State (19-11, 9-9) had them in trouble when they met Jan. 11 in Springfield, Mo., but the Bears blew a 19-point second-half lead and ultimately lost 72-69 in overtime.
They never came close to making it a game Saturday, trailing by double-digits in the opening minutes.