Head coach Dan Muller owned a 7-3 record against Northern Iowa as a player from 1994-98.
ANOTHER CLOSE CALL
Illinois State led No. 16 Creighton, 65-64, with 7:17 remaining in the game Wednesday night on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena, but the Bluejays regained the lead for good, and held off the Redbirds, 79-72. The seven-point margin of victory was Creighton's lowest of the season. Four out of Illinois State's five losses this season have resulted in deficits of seven points or less, with an average difference of 5.8 points. Three of the Redbirds' defeats have been by three points or less.
CARMICHAEL BLOCKS OFF SPOT IN THE RECORD BOOK
With a powerful block at the 16:26 mark in the second half of the Jan. 2 game against No. 16 Creighton, Redbird senior forward Jackie Carmichael broke the Illinois State career-blocked shots record. Carmichael now has 161 blocks, which surpassed the record of 160 set by Greg Dilligard, who played from 2003-07. Carmichael already has 29 blocks through the first 14 games (2.1 per contest).
YOU CAN'T BEAT ZEKE
Illinois State junior guard Zeke Upshaw, who averaged just 1.7 points and 0.7 rebounds per game during the non-conference schedule, has averaged 10.0 points and 1.5 rebounds during ISU's first two Valley games. Upshaw first matched a career high with nine points on a career-best three three-pointers in the Valley-opening loss at Indiana State (Dec. 30). He keyed the Redbird comeback effort with back-to-back treys to pull Illinois State within 75-73, with 34.0 seconds remaining, after the Redbirds had trailed by 11 at the 3:41 mark. Upshaw then netted a career-high 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting, including a 3-for-4 effort from beyond the arc, in the loss to No. 16 Creighton (Jan. 2). He came off the bench and hit a pair of three-pointers to tie the game at 53-53 at the 14:56 mark. The Creighton lead was cut from six points down to 61-60 at the 10:15 mark, after a fastbreak dunk by Upshaw and a three-pointer from Bryant Allen.
Redbird senior guard Tyler Brown hit back-to-back three-pointers to start the game against No. 16 Creighton on Jan. 2, and finished with 15 points, his 12th double-digit scoring effort of the season. Brown has now made at least two three-pointers in 10 games this season, with a season-best seven against Northwestern at the South Padre Island Invitational (Nov. 24). Brown is leading the Redbirds in Valley play with 13.0 points and 3.0 rebounds averaged per conference game so far this season.
THE ALLEN WRENCH
Following his career-high 30-point effort in Illinois State's win against UAB at the South Padre Island Invitational on Nov. 23, ISU junior guard Bryant Allen averaged just 3.0 points per game over the next four contests. However, Allen shot himself out of the brief slump with a 13-point effort against Morgan State on Dec. 16. Since then, he has proven to be one of ISU's most useful offensive tools, averaging 10.0 points per contest in the Redbirds' last five games. Allen and Tyler Brown both netted a game-high 15 points in the loss to No. 16 Creighton on Jan. 2. Allen has now scored in double digits in three of his four career
games against Creighton, and in six games this season for the Redbirds.
It might be cold outside, but Illinois State's offense has been red hot. The Redbirds rank 15th in the nation and second in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 49.1 field goal percentage. ISU's scoring offense also ranks among the nation's best, as Illinois State is 18th nationally and first in the Valley with 79.9 points averaged per contest.
SHARING THE ROCK
Illinois State's offensive success this year is a direct result of unselfish play. Along with boasting the top scoring offense in the Missouri Valley Conference (79.9), the Redbirds also lead the league in assists per game, with 18.0. That mark ranks seventh in the nation. ISU guard Kaza Keane is tied for second in the league with 4.9 assists per game, while Johnny Hill ranks seventh with 3.7.
At least three Redbirds have netted double-figures in 12 of Illinois State's 14 games this season. Four reached double-figures in the opener versus UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 12), five scored double-figures at Drexel (Nov. 15), three tallied double-figures against Delaware State, (Nov. 18), four reached double-figures versus Fairleigh Dickinson, (Nov. 20), three scored double-figures against UAB, (Nov. 23), three netted double-figures against Wyoming (Dec. 4), three reached double-figures versus Western Michigan (Dec. 8), three scored double-figures against Morgan State (Dec. 16), three netted double figures at Dayton (Dec. 19), four scored double-figures against Austin Peay (Dec. 22), three reached double-figures at Indiana State (Dec. 30) and four netted double-figures against No. 16 Creighton (Jan. 2). ISU is 9-3 when three or more players score in double-figures, and 0-2 when less than three net double-figures.
THE MAGIC NUMBER WAS 70
Illinois State's success during the non-conference season was based on 70 points. If the Redbirds reached 70, they won. If not, they lost. ISU was 9-0 when scoring 70 or more and 0-3 when scoring less than 70 prior to Valley play. However, Illinois State's 77-75 loss at Indiana State (Dec. 30), and the 79-72 loss to No. 16 Creighton (Jan. 2) indicate that reaching 70 does not guarantee a Redbird victory in the Valley.
FORCE TURNOVERS, WIN GAMES
The Redbirds are 8-2 this season when they force more turnovers than their opposition, and 1-3 when they commit more turnovers. The Redbirds won their first game with more turnovers than their opponent in the victory at Dayton on Dec. 19. Illinois State lost at Indiana State on Dec. 30, despite forcing 12 turnovers while committing just 11. The Redbirds also lost to No. 16 Creighton on Jan. 2, despite committing just seven turnovers while forcing 12.
FIRST HALF FRENZY
Illinois State has dominated in the first half of nearly every game this season. ISU has led at halftime in 11 out of their first 14 games, with the only exceptions being a 43-37 deficit at Drexel (Nov. 15), a 36-27 deficit at Indiana State (Dec. 30) and a 42-39 deficit against No. 16 Creighton. ISU has outscored its opponents in the first half 600 to 470, which breaks down to a game average of 42.9 ISU first-half points compared to 33.6 opponent first-half points.
COLD FIRST HALF ICES VALLEY OPENER
Illinois State shot a season-low 25.7 percent from the field in the first half of the Redbirds' Missouri Valley Conference opener at Indiana State on Dec. 30. The Redbirds warmed up in the second half, shooting 51.9 percent, but still fell to the Sycamores, 77-75. Illinois State finished the game with a season-low 37.1 shooting percentage, which was the first time ISU shot under 40 percent this season, and only the fourth time the Redbirds were held under 50 percent in 2012-13.
AN INCH AWAY
Despite Illinois State trailing at Indiana State by 11 with 3:41 to play, the Redbirds rallied to pull within two. With 3.0 seconds left, a three-pointer by Nick Zeisloft was on line, but fell an inch short and rimmed out.
With 13 points and a season-high 14 rebounds in Illinois State's loss at Indiana State on Dec. 30, Jackie Carmichael recorded his third-consecutive double-double and fourth of the season. The double-double was Carmichael's fifth of the season, which ranks 29th in the nation. It was also the 26th of his career. No other Redbird has registered a double-double during the 2012-13 season. Carmichael has now netted double figures in 12 out of 14 games this year, and 58 total during his career.
KING OF THE HILL
Sophomore guard Johnny Hill, who averaged just 7.4 minutes per game last season, has been a vital part of ISU's success this year. After point guard Kaza Keane was hindered with an ankle injury, Hill stepped up to make his first seven career starts, and over the last eight games, he has led ISU with 39 assists (4.9 per game), 15 steals (1.9 per game) and an average of 5.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest. Hill has also averaged 24.6 minutes over the past seven games, and 23.0 minutes so far this season.
Senior forward Jackie Carmichael's career-high 30-point performance in Illinois State's win over Morgan State (Dec. 16) marked the third time a Redbird has scored 30 or more points in a single game so far this season. The other 30-plus point efforts were from Bryant Allen (30 points versus UAB on Nov. 23) and Tyler Brown (36 points versus Northwestern on Nov. 24). Illinois State is the only program in the country which has had three different players score 30 or more points this season.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARDED TO CARMICHAEL
Jackie Carmichael received the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week honor for the second time this season and the fourth time in his career, after helping the Redbirds to wins against Dayton (Dec. 19) and Austin Peay (Dec. 22). He averaged a double-double with 21.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game during Illinois State's two wins, including the 74-73 victory at Dayton, followed by the 83-57 win over Austin Peay. Carmichael matched his season high with 12 rebounds at Dayton. He also netted 25 points to tally his sixth 20-plus-point game of the year and the 16th of his career. The Manhattan, Kan., native was 9-for-14 (64.3 percent) from the field and 7-for-9 (77.8 percent) at the free throw line. He also blocked two shots and collected one steal and one assist. In Illinois State's win over Austin Peay, Carmichael earned his 25th-career double-double, and fourth of the season, with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Carmichael set or tied a career high in four categories, including points (27), field goals (13), field goal attempts (20) and assists (3), in Illinois State's season-opening win against UC Santa Barbara Nov. 12, and he then led the Redbirds offensively with a 21-point performance during ISU's overtime win at Drexel Nov. 15. With Drexel leading, 75-73, Carmichael was fouled with 2.0 seconds remaining and proceeded to hit two pressure-packed free throws to send the game into overtime. The Valley Player of the Week award is the first for Illinois State since Carmichael won it Jan. 30, 2012. That was the lone player of the week honor awarded to the Redbirds last season.
BACK-TO-BACK 30-POINT GAMES
Senior guard Tyler Brown and junior guard Bryant Allen each scored 30 or more points in back-to-back games at the South Padre Island Invitational in South Padre Island, Texas. In doing so, Allen became the first Redbird since 2010 to score 30 points in a game. Brown accomplished the feat 24 hours later.