Updated at: 01/14/2013 7:37 PM
(AP) EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Evansville coach Marty Simmons couldn’t have been more pleased with the way his team played against a ranked opponent.
Colt Ryan had 24 points and eight assists for the Aces in their fourth straight Missouri Valley Conference win, 71-67 over No. 23 Wichita State.
"We competed for 40 minutes today", Simmons said. "Our guys are very active on defense. We have a fast team and we want to run. This was probably the most unselfish we played. Colt (Ryan) played with a lot of emotion today. The rest of the guys feed off him."
Evansville (11-6, 4-1) outscored Wichita State (15-2, 4-1) 20 to 11 from the free throw line and forced 22 turnovers. The Aces closed the game out by making seven free throws over the final 1:25.
"We were sloppy with the ball," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said, referring to his team’s season-high turnover total. "Twenty-two turnovers is the story for us. We had to do a better job against a good defensive team like Evansville."
There were 16 lead changes and 13 ties in the game. The Shockers’ biggest lead was five points, while the Aces’ was six points. Evansville had a 27-9 advantage in points off turnovers.
"I respect Wichita State and the way they do things," Simmons said. "They are a real good team and are well coached. They had three starters out with injuries. To compete with them in the manner that we did we are fortunate."
Malcolm Armstead had a career-high 21 points for Wichita State (15-2, 4-1).
The Aces had a big advantage at the free throw line.
"We need to get to the line more. 31 free throws to 13 is hard to overcome. Neither half did we get to the bonus," Marshall said on the difference in free throw attempts. "We shot 54 percent from the field and 59 percent from 3 but we just had too many turnovers. Maybe it was fatigue. Our guys had to play a lot of minutes. But we just can’t throw the ball to the other guys."
Troy Taylor had 12 points for Evansville and Ned Cox added 10.
In the first half there were nine ties and 10 lead changes. The Aces took advantage of 11 turnovers to outscore the visitors 15-0 in points off turnovers in taking a 32-31 halftime lead on a basket by Egidijus Mockevicius with 10 seconds left. Mockevicius finished with nine points.
Armstead, who scored 15 points in the first half including three 3-pointers, was the difference for Wichita State in the first half.
Ryan had 13 points in the first half that saw neither team lead by more than four points.
"Colt Ryan is a very good player. We worked hard to defend him, but he’s a dynamic scorer," Marshall said of Evansville’s third all-time leading scorer.
The Shockers led 50-45 with 10:54 remaining on a 3-pointer Cleanthony Early, who finished 16 points, just over his 15.4 average that leads Wichita State.
The Aces went on a 13-6 run over the next 6:06 to take the lead. Two free throws by Ryan with 4:48 left gave Evansville the lead for good at 58-56.
A layup by Jake White with 26.4 seconds remaining cut the Aces’ lead to 69-67. However, his 3-point attempt with 5 seconds left to tie missed.
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