Balanced Effort Leads Redbirds Past Tennessee State, 64-58
Daishon Knight

Daishon Knight

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Dec. 19, 2013

NORMAL, Ill. - Balanced offensive production and a stifling defense led Illinois State (6-5) to a wire-to-wire 64-58 victory over Tennessee State (1-11), Thursday night, in Redbird Arena. The victory was ISU's third-straight on Doug Collins Court, and fifth in its last six games overall.

Daishon Knight led all players with 16 points, his ninth-consecutive double-digit scoring effort. Paris Lee added 11 points and a career-high six assists, while Bobby Hunter chipped in 10 for the Redbirds. All 10 ISU players who saw action scored at least two points and made at least one field goal.

Defensively, the Redbirds hampered the Tigers all night with a swarming zone defense. ISU tied a season-high with 10 steals, and forced 16 turnovers overall. The Redbirds held TSU to 34.4-percent shooting from the field, and limited leading-scorer Patrick Miller to a season-low 13 points.

The ISU offense started out strong, making four of its first seven shots, including four points from Lee, to build a 10-4 lead at the 15:04 mark of the first half. The Tigers responded with eight of the game's next 11 points, however, to pull within one with 10:23 remaining in the half. A jumper from Jones with 9:43 left stemmed the tide, making the score 15-12 ISU.

The Tigers pulled within one yet again on a transition layup that made it 15-14 with 7:47 left in the half. The Redbirds responded more definitively this time, reeling off nine straight points, including five from Reggie Lynch. The run was capped off with two free throws from Nick Zeisloft to make it 24-14 Redbirds with 5:09 remaining in the first half. The Tigers outscored ISU 8-4 over the remainder of the first half, however, resulting in a 28-22 ISU lead at halftime.

The first half's defensive intensity carried over into the second, as both teams' offenses were slow coming out of the locker room. The Redbirds and Tigers combined to make just two of their first 11 shots and commit five turnovers in the first five minutes of the second half. The ISU advantage hovered between nine and five until a fast-break layup from Hunter at the 11:58 mark moved the Redbirds' lead back into double-digits at 38-27.

As ISU built the lead back to 11, the already stingy defense clamped down even more. TSU did not score a point for 4:53, with the Redbirds forcing them to shoot 0-for-8 during the stretch. A three-point-play by Miller at the 9:19 mark ended the drought and a layup on the Tigers' next possession cut the lead to six, before a three-pointer from Knight extended ISU's advantage to 41-32 with 8:17 remaining.

The Tigers would continue to battle, however, as six-straight points brought the Tigers back within three, 41-38, with 6:12 remaining. Knight again regained control for the Redbirds, recording a steal and converting a fast-break layup to extend the lead back to five. The Tigers would pull back to within three one more time, 43-40 with 4:41 left, before a 7-0 ISU run moved the lead back to double-digits, from which TSU could not recover.

The Redbirds will conclude their non-conference slate against DePaul at Redbird Arena, Sunday at 3:35 p.m. Upper bowl tickets are available at a discounted rate of $5 and the game will air live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

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