Head coach Dan Muller owned a 9-2 record against Drake as a player from 1994-98.
REDBIRD AMBASSADOR - ROGER POWELL
Roger Powell (1972-76) is scheduled to serve as the Redbird Ambassador for the Jan. 12 game against Drake. Powell is a product of Joliet, Ill., and was a four-year letterwinner and three-year starter who played for legendary coach Will Robinson. Powell ranks 19th in program history with 1,306 career points, and he averaged 13.2 points per game during his Illinois State career. He also shot 48.1 percent from the field and made 568 career field goals. During his senior season, he led the Redbirds in scoring with 19.2-points-per-game and shot a team-leading 51.8 percent from the floor. In 1998, he was inducted into the Illinois State Athletics Percy Family Hall of Fame.
LOOKING FOR FIRST VALLEY WIN
The Redbirds host Drake in search of their first Missouri Valley Conference win of the season, after beginning 0-4, which is the slowest start since ISU went 0-8 to begin the 2010-11 Valley season.
Redbird senior forward Jackie Carmichael has recorded a double-double in five out of his last six games, including a 21-point, 12-rebound effort at Missouri State Tuesday night. Carmichael has tallied double-figures in eight-consecutive games, and 14 out of 16 games so far this season and 60 in his career. He has also totaled six double-doubles this season (17th nationally) and 27 throughout his career.
REDBIRDS HELD 22 POINTS BELOW AVERAGE
Missouri State's defense held Illinois State under 60 points for the first time this season during ISU's 62-55 loss at JQH Arena Tuesday night. That means the Redbirds, who are still averaging 77.1 points per game, scored 22.1 points below this season's standard. ISU, which had averaged 81.0 points per game during the non-conference season, is averaging 65.5 points in Valley play (a difference of 15.5 points).
Whereas Illinois State typically dominated the first half of its non-conference games, the Redbirds have struggled offensively in their first four 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 four league contests at halftime, and are being outscored 142 to 112 (35.5 compared to 28.0) in the opening stanza. ISU is also averaging 36.4 percent from the field in the first half against Valley foes, compared to a 47.3 percent first-half average by opponents.
At least three Redbirds have netted double-figures in 13 of Illinois State's 16 games this season, including three out of Illinois State's four 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). Jackie Carmichael has netted double-digit efforts 14 times this year to lead the way for ISU.
Through ISU's first four Valley games, the Redbirds have utilized three different starting lineups. While the combination of Johnny Hill, Bryant Allen, Tyler Brown, Jon Ekey and Jackie Carmichael started the first two games at Indiana State and versus Creighton, the next two starting lineups were different. Redshirt freshman Nick Zeisloft received the first start of his career in place of injured guard Allen during the Jan. 5 game against Northern Iowa. Jordan Threloff then started in place of Ekey in Tuesday night's game at Missouri State. It was Threloff's second-career start, and his first-ever with Carmichael.
ANOTHER CLOSE CALL
The Redbirds have lost their first four Valley games by an average deficit of just 6.5 points. Five out of Illinois State's six losses this season have resulted in deficits of seven points or less. Three of the Redbirds' defeats have been by three points or less. Illinois State led No. 16 Creighton, 65-64, with 7:17 remaining on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena (Jan. 2), 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. Against UNI (Jan. 5), the Redbirds were within three points of the Panthers six times in the final 16:58 of the game, but could not get closer. At Missouri State (Jan. 8), ISU pulled within 53-50 at the 4:40 mark, before losing.
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 62-55 loss at Missouri State (Jan. 8).
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 2-7 when they shoot less. In Illinois State's loss at Missouri State Tuesday night, the Redbirds were 7-for-12 from the line, while the Bears shot 11-for-18.
FORCE TURNOVERS, WIN GAMES
The Redbirds are 8-2 this season when they force more turnovers than their opposition, and 1-5 when they commit more turnovers. That stat held true in a 13 to 11 turnover night Tuesday at Missouri State. 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.
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 163 blocks, which surpassed the record of 160 set by Greg Dilligard, who played from 2003-07.
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 nine career starts, and over the last 10 games, he has led ISU with 40 assists (4.0 per game), 15 steals (1.5 per game) and an average of 6.7 points and 3.6 rebounds 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 5.5 points and 1.5 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. ISU has now shot under 50 percent in the Redbirds' last four games.
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.
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.
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.
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).