Shockers display no rust in rout of Cal Poly

News-DemocratMarch 22, 2014 

— The Wichita State Shockers made history in convincing fashion.

The Shockers rolled past the Cal Poly Mustangs 64-37 Friday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to become the first team to start a season with 35 consecutive wins in NCAA history.

For the Shockers, the win was just another step toward their ultimate goal.

"It's a blessing to be 35-0, but at the same time we have to keep our head on our shoulders and look past that toward the future," said senior forward Chadrack Lufile, who had eight points and five rebounds off the bench for the Shockers. "We have big expectations for our team. It's good to win a lot of games like we have and set history, but I don't think we're done yet."

The Shockers are trying to become the first Division I basketball team to go undefeated in a season since the Indiana Hoosiers in the 1975-76 season.

They'll play the Wildcats -- either the Kentucky Wildcats or the Kansas State Wildcats -- on Sunday at Scottrade Center in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

"I think it's really fun," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said of his team's 35-0 record. "It's been a great season thus far. Thirty-five and zero is awesome, but to condense it even more, we're talking about being 1-0 in this tournament.

"It takes two to six to win and two to get out of this weekend, and that's our goal right now. To get out of the weekend."

The Mustangs, who end their season at 14-20, were just happy to be playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Cal Poly coach Joe Callero turned to the school's cheering section and said, "We'll be back," at the end of the game.

"For a bunch of ordinary guys from the central coast of California to believe each other and the program and be able to get to the Big Dance and be able to win the first game and get to the second round with even bigger arena and more fans, it's a blessing," Callero said. "We hope we come back soon with a little more rest and a little more preparation. Hats off to Gregg's program and those kids. I think you have to be a well-rested, a well-prepared team to have a chance against them. We were not a well-rested or well-prepared team tonight."

The Mustangs were playing their fifth game in eight days. They beat Texas Southern 81-69 on Wednesday in the first round.

Hall of Fame shortstop and Cal Poly alumnus Ozzie Smith gave the Mustangs a pep talk before the game.

"It was great to meet a legend," Cal Poly forward Chris Eversley said. "He said that we put Cal Poly on the map just as far as making it here. He said we won ever before the game started."

The Shockers hadn't played a game in 11 days since winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Scottrade Center, but they showed no rust as they rode an early 15-0 run to a 21-5 lead.

"We were very, very focused tonight," Marshall said. "It had been a long time since we played and this team had our attention having won four in a row."

A 9-0 push put the Shockers ahead 30-8 with five minutes left in the first half.

They'd hold a 32-13 advantage at the break, and a 12-4 run at the start of the second half increased their lead to 44-17.

Cleanthony Early led the Shockers with 23 points, including 19 in the first half on 7-for-11 shooting.

No other player for either team reached double figures, but Wichita State's Ron Baker had seven points and a career-high nine rebounds.

Malik Love had nine points off the bench to pace the Mustangs.

The game marked the largest margin of victory for the Shockers in an NCAA Tournament game, bettering their 95-70 win over Southern in 1981.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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