Redbirds Travel to No. 6 Wichita State Wednesday Night
Daishon Knight

Daishon Knight

Jan. 7, 2014

 Illinois State at No. 6 Wichita State | Wichita, Kan.
 Date  Wednesday, January 8
 Location
 Wichita, Kan.
 Tipoff
 7 p.m. CT
 Arena
 Charles Koch Arena
 Capacity
 10,467
 TV  ESPN3
 Radio  WJBC 1230 AM, FM 93.7 (Dick Luedke and Mike Matthews)
 Game Notes  Illinois State Notes

QUICK HITS ABOUT #REDBIRDHOOPS

  • Illinois State has won seven out of its last nine games, with ISU holding a +6.9 scoring margin during the stretch.
  • No. 6 Wichita State is the Redbirds' third Top-25 opponent of the season, with ISU beating No. 25 Dayton at home (Dec. 7) after falling in the season-opener at No. 14 VCU (Nov. 8). Illinois State is trying to secure two wins over a Top-25 team in the same season for the second time in program history and the first time since the 1983-84 season.
  • The Redbirds' win over No. 25 Dayton earlier this year was ISU's 10th-overall against a ranked opponent and the third in as many seasons after ISU beat No. 16 Creighton last season and No. 15 Wichita State in 2011-12.
  • Illinois State is trying to earn four Top-25 victories in a three-season span for the first time in program history.
  • The Redbirds are 10-51 all-time versus Top-25 opponents and 1-1 against ranked foes this season.
  • Illinois State junior guard Daishon Knight - who leads the Redbirds with 14.2 points per game - has made a three in every game this season. He has also reached double-figure scoring in 11 out of 14 contests.
  • Redbird freshman center Reggie Lynch continues to lead the Missouri Valley Conference in blocks per game (2.2) and field goal percentage (64.6 percent). He has recorded three blocks in seven games this season.
  • ISU junior guard Bobby Hunter ranks second in the MVC in three-point shooting at 50.0 percent.
  • Illinois State leads the MVC and ranks 52nd in the nation in three-point field goals per game (7.9).
  • Redbird junior guard Daishon Knight is a three-time MVC Newcomer of the Week (Dec. 23, Dec. 2 and Dec. 9).
  • ISU sophomore guard Nick Zeisloft is a two-time MVC Male Student-Athlete of the Week (Dec. 4, Dec. 27).
  • Illinois State's fall 2013 team grade-point average (GPA) was the fifth-highest in the last 17 years.
  • Nick Zeisloft is one of 75 NCAA Division I nominees for the Allstate NABC Good Works Team, which recognizes basketball student-athletes who represent the sport's finest in the areas of leadership and charitable achievements.
  • With just 2.5 years of previous NCAA Division I basketball experience divided amongst returners Kaza Keane, Nick Zeisloft and Matt Stacho, Illinois State is believed to have less returning experience than any other Division I team.

    PROGRAM EXCELLENCE:
  • Illinois State is in its 44th season as a NCAA Division I program, and during that time, the Redbirds have only had eight losing seasons.
  • Throughout Illinois State's program history, the Redbirds have featured 20 All-American selections, two Missouri Valley Conference Larry Bird Valley Players of the Year, Four Valley Tournament Most Outstanding Players, 66 All-Valley Selections, six NCAA Tournament appearances, 12 NIT appearances, three Valley regular-season championships and four Valley Tournament championships.

    ABOUT THE WICHITA STATE SHOCKERS

  • Wichita State University is located in Wichita, Kan., and has an enrollment of 14,550. The Shockers compete at the NCAA Division I level and are members of the Missouri Valley Conference.
  • The Shockers return three starters from a team which finished 30-9 last season and placed 2nd in the Missouri Valley Conference (12-6). Last season, WSU advanced to the Final Four and finish No. 4 in the final USA Today Coaches Poll, marking the Shockers' highest-ever ranking.
  • Illinois State leads the all-time series against Wichita State, 37-36, with WSU winning the last three meetings and nine out of the last 10. ISU is 10-22 in Wichita, Kan., with ISU's last victory at Charles Koch Arena occurring Jan. 1, 2008, when the Redbirds beat Wichita State, 49-46.
  • The Shockers are picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference according to the official preseason poll, and senior forward Cleanthony Early is the Valley Preseason Player of the Year.

    WHERE TO WATCH: ISU AT WICHITA STATE
    ESPN3 - http://es.pn/MBK-ILSTvsWICHITA

    LAST MEETING: ILLINOIS STATE FALLS IN SEMIFINALS TO WICHITA STATE, 66-51
    ST. LOUIS (March 9, 2013) - Illinois State overcame a 16-point first-half deficit to take a one-point lead early in the second half, but Wichita State pulled away late to beat the Redbirds, 66-51, in the Missouri Valley Conference semifinals at Scottrade Center. Jackie Carmichael scored a game-high 22 points for the No. 6-seeded Redbirds (18-15), who beat No. 3-seeded Northern Iowa in the quarterfinals, but could not continue their Valley Tournament run. Illinois State was held to a season-low 29.1 percent from the field, while the Shockers (26-7) shot 41.1 percent.

    FOR COMPARISON'S SAKE
    Despite Illinois State featuring what is believed to be the least-experienced team in the nation, this year's Redbird squad (which features eight newcomers to NCAA Division I basketball on the current active roster) is just one game off the pace of last year's much more experience Redbird team, which included four seniors and just two scholarship-newcomers. Last year's ISU team was 9-5 and 0-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference after its first 14 games, while the 2013-14 Redbirds are currently 8-6 and 1-1 in the Valley.

    DEFENSIVE DISCIPLINE
    Illinois State has prided itself on executing effect 2-3 zone defense this season. The Redbirds' defensive discipline was highlighted during Sunday afternoon's win over Southern Illinois, as ISU held the Salukis to a season-low 48 points on 31.5 percent shooting. SIU's 17 second-half points not only marked the fewest allowed by the Redbirds in a half this season, but it was also just two shy of SIU's school-record low of 15 points in a half set against Kentucky Wesleyan in 1965. The last time ISU held a team below 50 points was when Southern Illinois scored 47 on Feb. 2, 2013, and the last time the Redbirds held a team to less than 20 points in a half was when Northern Iowa scored 17 on March 2, 2012.

    HUNTER SHINES
    Redshirt junior guard Bobby Hunter led Illinois State in scoring - along with Zach Lofton - (13.0 points per game) and steals (2.5 per game), as the Redbirds went 1-1 with an overtime loss at Missouri State followed by a decisive home victory over Southern Illinois last week. Hunter helped ISU extend its home winning streak to five games. The Reno, Nev., native came off the bench in both contests to shoot a team-best 62.5 percent (5-for-8) from beyond the arc, along with a 53.8 percent clip from the field and a 77.8 percent mark at the free throw line, plus 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per contest. Hunter ranked second on the team with 59 minutes played throughout the two games while amassing a 2.50 assist-to-turnover ratio.

    ZACH IS BACK
    After earning double-figures in seven-straight games to start the season, sophomore guard Zach Lofton was held under double-figures in three out of his next four. However, over the last three games, Lofton has bounced back by exemplifying his scoring prowess with 13.3 points per contest. In the Redbirds' win over Southern Illinois Sunday afternoon, Lofton scored a team-high 18 points - one shy of a career-high - while matching his career-mark with four three-pointers.

    BLOCKED BY LYNCH
    After leading the state of Minnesota in high school blocked shots during the last two years, freshman guard Reggie Lynch has effectively transferred his shot-blocking skills to the NCAA Division I level. Lynch has consistently led the Missouri Valley Conference in blocks this season, currently ranking first in the league and 59th in the nation (2.2 per game). Throughout the first 14 games, Lynch has blocked at least one shot in 13 contests and at least three in seven games. He has 31 total blocks as he pursues the freshman single-season blocks record of 52, set by Jon Ekey in 2010-11. Lynch has led ISU in blocks 12 times.

    LEAGUE LEADERS
    Along with freshman guard Reggie Lynch's Valley-best 2.2 blocks per game, he is also leading the league in field goal percentage (64.6) (42-for-65). Meanwhile, teammate Bobby Hunter ranks No. 2 in MVC three-point shooting with a 50.0 percent average (15-for-30). As a team, Illinois State ranks first in Valley three-pointers - and 52nd in the nation - (7.9 per game) and second in league blocks (4.4).

    ON-THE-JOB EXPERIENCE
    Illinois State, which is believed to have less experience than any other NCAA Division I team, has made significant progress throughout the season. In the Redbirds' first five games (1-4), ISU averaged 68.4 points while shooting 38.3 percent and allowing opponents to shoot 45.7 percent. In contrast, the Redbirds have averaged 73.9 points (+5.5) per games while shooting 41.9 percent (+3.6) and holding opponents to 41.1 percent (-4.6) through their last nine games (7-2).

    EXPERIENCE PAYS OFF
    Illinois State's only two scholarship-returners - Kaza Keane and Nick Zeisloft - have both increased their offensive productivity this season compared to where they were after two conference games last year. Zeisloft is now averaging 6.2 points per game compared to a 5.4 average after 13 games last season, and Keane is averaging 3.6 compared to 3.5. Zeisloft, who now often plays the four position, has more-than doubled his rebounding average from 1.8 at this time last year to 4.1 now.

    DIFFICULT TO DEFEND
    The Redbirds have proven to be a difficult team to defend as of late, thanks in part to ISU's four-guard, one forward starting lineup over the last 10 games. With guard Nick Zeisloft playing the four position, Illinois State's offense has thrived. The Redbirds have not only won seven-out-of-their-last-nine games with the smaller lineup, but they have earned a +5.1 scoring margin, plus a +2.1 turnover margin, contrasted with a -12.7 scoring margin and a -2.7 turnover margin during ISU's first four contests with a three-guard lineup.

    REDBIRD ARENA'S SILVER ANNIVERSARY
    On Jan. 11, 1989, the Illinois State men's basketball team hosted its first-ever game at the newly-opened Redbird Arena. ISU beat Chicago State that day, 71-70. Redbird Arena will celebrate its 25th anniversary as the home of ISU men's basketball Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 versus Loyola in the arena's 369th game.

    GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.

     

     

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