WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Fred VanVleet had a season-high 22 points to lead No. 8 Wichita State past Northern Iowa 67-53 on Sunday, the unbeaten Shockers’ 15th straight win.
Cleanthony Early had 18 points for Wichita State (15-0, 2-0 Missouri Valley), which established a school record for consecutive wins and extended the best start in school history. The previous record winning streak of 14 games came in 1953-54.
Deon Mitchell had 16 points for Northern Iowa (7-7, 1-1).
Wichita State shot a season-worst 38.1 percent from the field, but VanVleet continued his hot streak. In the last four games, he averaged 18.3 points while compiling 21 assists and just one turnover.
Early scored 11 of Wichita State’s first 13 points in the second half. His third 3-pointer in a 5-minute span gave the Shockers a 43-33 lead with 14:05 remaining.
Northern Iowa rallied by taking the ball to the basket. Drives by Marvin Singleton and Mitchell were followed by Wes Washpun’s two free throws that cut Wichita State’s lead to 43-39 with 12:17 to play.
VanVleet sparked the next significant spurt for Wichita State. He made a jumper with 8:11 remaining and then dribbled past two Panthers and slithered between two more for a winding layup to go up 57-44 with 6:28 remaining, the biggest lead of the game to that point.
Fittingly, it was VanVleet who sealed the victory.
With the shot clock winding down, he bulled through the Northern Iowa defense and hit a 12-footer while being fouled with 2:28 remaining. The three-point play made it 64-47.
Just 33 seconds later, VanVleet was in transition when he lofted a left-handed layup over two Panthers while being fouled. That three-point play pushed the Shockers’ lead to 67-47 as the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
The Panthers shot 33.9 percent (19 of 56) for the game.
Northern Iowa started the game almost ideally, but the momentum didn’t last long. The Panthers scored 12 points in the game’s first 4 minutes and took a 10-point lead.
But Northern Iowa scored only 10 points — making just three field goals — in the first half’s final 16 minutes, allowing Wichita State to take a 30-22 lead.