Head coach Dan Muller owned a 9-0 record against Wichita State as a player from 1994-98.
LOOKING FOR FIRST VALLEY WIN
The Redbirds travel to Wichita State in search of their first Missouri Valley Conference win of the season, after beginning 0-5, 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 six out of his last seven games, including a 21-point, 12-rebound effort at Missouri State Tuesday night, followed by a 19-point, 12-rebound effort against Drake on Saturday. Carmichael has tallied double-figures in nine-consecutive games and 15 out of 17 games so far this season and 61 in his career. He has also totaled seven double-doubles this season and 28 throughout his career, which ranks third-best in the past 25 years in the MVC.
FORCE TURNOVERS, WIN GAMES
The Redbirds are 8-3 this season when they force more turnovers than their opposition, and 1-5 when they commit more turnovers.
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 ten career starts. He amassed new career highs in his last two games against Missouri State and Drake, averaging 19.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest, with career highs in points (24) and rebounds (9) in the loss to Drake on Jan. 12.
NON-CONFERENCE VS. VALLEY SEASON
Whereas Illinois State featured one of the top-scoring offenses in the nation during the non-conference schedule, that has not been the case in Missouri Valley Conference play, where the Redbirds have been held 9.3 points below their non-conference average. ISU is averaging 67.8 points per game in the Valley compared to 77.1 points per game versus non-conference opponents. The Redbirds are also allowing an average of 74.0 points per game in league play compared to 69.4 points per game in the non-conference season.
Illinois State has been a team of streaks this season. The Redbirds opened the year on a six-game winning streak before later putting together a four-game winning stretch. However, ISU also suffered through a three-game losing streak during the non-conference season, and the Redbirds are currently on a five-game Valley skid. Illinois State is 7-2 when coming off of a win and 1-6 when coming off of a loss this season.
Whereas Illinois State typically dominated the first half of its non-conference games, the Redbirds 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 four out of five league contests at halftime, and are being outscored 174 to 153 in the opening stanza. ISU did lead at halftime for the first time in a Valley game against Drake.
At least three Redbirds have netted double-figures in 14 of Illinois State's 17 games this season, including four out of Illinois State's five Missouri Valley Conference matchups. Three reached double figures at Indiana State (Dec. 30), four earned double-figures against No. 16 Creighton (Jan. 2), three recorded double-figures versus Northern Iowa (Jan. 5), and three earned double-figures versus Drake (Jan. 12). Jackie Carmichael has netted double-digit efforts 15 times this year to lead the way for ISU.
Through ISU's first five Valley games, the Redbirds have utilized four 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 three starting lineups were different. Redshirt freshman Nick Zeisloft received the first start of his career in place of the injured Allen during the Jan. 5 game against Northern Iowa. Jordan Threloff then started in place of Ekey in the Jan. 8 game at Missouri State. It was Threloff's second-career start, and his first-ever with Carmichael. During Saturday night's game against Drake, Ekey, Carmichael, Kaza Keane, Allen and Hill started, in place of Brown.
ANOTHER CLOSE CALL
The Redbirds have lost their first five Valley games by an average deficit of just 6.2 points. Six out of Illinois State's eight 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. And against Drake (Jan. 12), Illinois State got as close as 77-73 with 42.0 seconds remaining.
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), the 79-72 loss to No. 16 Creighton (Jan. 2) and the 82-77 loss to Drake (Jan. 12) 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 2-8 when they shoot less.
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 167 blocks, which surpassed the record of 160 set by Greg Dilligard, who played from 2003-07.
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 increased his productivity during the Valley season. 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 five games.
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 against 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.