Head coach Dan Muller owned a 6-4 record against Missouri State as a player from 1994-98.
LOOKING FOR FIRST VALLEY WIN
The Redbirds travel to Springfield, Mo., in search of their first Missouri Valley Conference win of the season, after starting 0-3, which is the slowest start since ISU went 0-8 to begin the 2010-11 Valley season.
Whereas Illinois State typically dominated the first half of its non-conference games, the Redbirds have struggled offensively in their first three Missouri Valley Conference matchups. ISU led in 11 out of 12 non-conference games and outscored the opposition in the first half, 534 to 392 (44.5 points averaged, compared to 32.7). In contrast, the Redbirds have trailed all three league contests at halftime, and are being outscored 110 to 87 (36.7 compared to 29.0) in the opening stanza. ISU is also averaging 35.1 percent from the field in the first half against Valley foes, compared to a 48.4 percent second-half clip.
At least three Redbirds have netted double-figures in 13 of Illinois State's 15 games this season, including all three of Illinois State's Missouri Valley Conference matchups. Three reached double figures at Indiana State (Dec. 30), four earned double-figures against No. 16 Creighton (Jan. 2) and three recorded double-figures versus Northern Iowa (Jan. 5). Tyler Brown and Jackie Carmichael have both netted double-digit efforts 13 times this year.
Redbird senior forward Jackie Carmichael has recorded a double-double in four out of his last five games, including a 19-point, 8.5 rebound effort against Northern Iowa Saturday afternoon. Carmichael has tallied double-figures in seven-consecutive games, and 13 out of 15 games so far this season and 59 in his career. He has also totaled five double-doubles this season (23rd nationally) and 26 through his career.
ZEISLOFT MAKES FIRST-CAREER START
Illinois State redshirt freshman Nick Zeisloft received the first start of his career in place of injured guard Bryant Allen during Saturday night's game against Northern Iowa. The redshirt freshman from LaGrange, Ill., scored five points on 2-for-5 shooting. It was the first time Allen did not start this season.
ANOTHER CLOSE CALL
Illinois State led No. 16 Creighton, 65-64, with 7:17 remaining in the game last 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. Three of the Redbirds' defeats have been by three points or less. Against Northern Iowa on Saturday night, Overall, the Redbirds were within three points of the Panthers six times in the final 16:58 of the game, but could not get closer.
CARMICHAEL BLOCKS OFF A 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, 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 15 games (1.9 per contest).
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. The Redbirds were held to a season-low total in ISU's 70-60 loss to Northern Iowa (Jan. 5).
FREE THROW INDICATOR
When the Redbirds get to the free throw line more than their opponent, they win. When they don't, they typically lose. At least that's what has happened so far this season. The Redbirds are 7-0 when they shoot more free throws than the opposition, and 2-6 when they shoot less. In Illinois State's loss to Nothern Iowa Saturday night, the Redbirds were 4-for-5 at the free throw line, while Northern Iowa was 17-for-21.
FORCE TURNOVERS, WIN GAMES
The Redbirds are 8-2 this season when they force more turnovers than their opposition, and 1-4 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.
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.
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 7.3 points and 2.0 rebounds during ISU's first three 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.
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.
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 eight career starts, and over the last nine games, he has led ISU with 39 assists (4.3 per game), 15 steals (1.7 per game) and an average of 5.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per contest. Hill has also averaged 24.3 minutes over the past nine games, and 22.9 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. Northwestern on Nov. 24. He netted a career-high 36 points on 12-for-20 shooting (60.0 percent), which was the fourth-highest scoring output in the nation this season, and the most points scored by a Redbird since Tarise Bryson tallied 41 against Central Michigan on Dec. 3, 2000.
Illinois State features an experienced team, including four seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and just two freshmen - with only one true-freshman (Kaza Keane). ISU welcomes back four out of five starters. from last year's team and returns 84.5 percent of offense (2,062/2,439), 92.4 percent of rebounding (1,135/1,229), 100 percent of shot blocking (118/118) and 69.1 percent of assists (317/459).
IT'S MULLER TIME
The last time the ISU men's basketball team participated in the NCAA Tournament, Dan Muller was the leader on the floor. He hopes to repeat that accomplishment, this time from the sideline, as the head coach. Muller was named the 19th men's basketball coach in school history May 8, 2012.