Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti was an assistant at Illinois State from 1990-93 under then-head coach Bob Bender. At ISU, he helped the Redbirds to a 60-57 record and a pair of regular-season titles.
WHERE TO WATCH: ISU AT DRAKE
Comcast SportsNet Chicago: Comcast: 56/522/922, DirecTV: 665, Dish: 429, AT&T U-Verse: 741/1741
ESPN Full Court: Comcast: 837, DirecTV: 724
LAST MEETING: REDBIRDS COME BACK TO BEAT DRAKE, 94-86
DES MOINES, Iowa (Feb. 6, 2013) - Illinois State overcame a 17-point deficit to beat Missouri Valley Conference foe Drake, 94-86, at the Knapp Center. The Redbirds (14-10, 5-7 MVC at the time) did not lead until a three by Jon Ekey put ISU in front of Drake (11-12, 5-7 MVC at the time) for good with 1:44 to play. Tyler Brown netted a game-high 25 points with a career-best nine assists. Jackie Carmichael contributed 23 points, while John Wilkins scored a season-best 18 points. Richard Carter had 17 points to lead the Bulldogs.
REDBIRDS ARE RED HOT
With Illinois State's 79-78 win over Evansville Wednesday night, the Redbirds have now gone 9-3 over their last 12 games, after starting the season 1-4. Illinois State has not won nine of 12 games since the beginning of the 2012-13 season when ISU started 9-3. The Redbirds are aiming to extend their streak to 10-of-13 when they travel to Drake Saturday, which would become ISU's best winning stretch since earning 11-of-14 wins from Nov. 17, 2011-Jan. 7, 2012.
Illinois State and Evansville required overtime to settle an offensive-showdown Wednesday night on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. Despite the Purple Aces netting 15 three-pointers - more than any opponent in ISU history - the Redbirds answered with one of their top offensive efforts of the season, as ISU matched a season-high first-half shooting-percentage of 58.1 percent. The Redbirds also outrebounded Evansville (37-35) and recorded more blocks (6-2) and steals (8-3) while committing fewer turnovers (8-11). ISU is now 1-1 in overtime games this season.
LOFTON REGISTERS CAREER-HIGH
Redbird sophomore guard Zach Lofton scored a career-high 21 points in a career-best 39 minutes during Illinois State's win over Evansville Wednesday night. Lofton - who started the season by netting double-figures in the first seven games - seems to have bounced back offensively after being held to one double-digit effort in the four games prior to Evansville. Redshirt junior guard Bobby Hunter also enjoyed a productive game Wednesday night, scoring a career-best five field goals.
KNIGHT BOUNCES BACK
After being held scoreless for the first time in his Illinois State career during the Redbirds' win over Loyola (Jan. 11), junior guard Daishon Knight bounced back to net 16 points against Evansville Wednesday night - including a clutch three-pointer with eight seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. Although Knight was held to two points in the first half, he managed 10 in the second half and four in overtime to lead the Redbirds past the Purple Aces. From the 3:33 mark of the second half through the 4:44 mark in overtime, Knight scored ten-straight Redbird points.
BLOCKED BY LYNCH
After leading the state of Minnesota in high school blocked shots during the last two years, freshman center 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 47th in the nation (2.4 per game). Throughout the first 17 games, Lynch has blocked at least one shot in 16 contests and three or more in 10 games, with a career-high four blocks recorded at No. 6 Wichita State (Jan. 8). He has 41 total blocks as he pursues the freshman single-season blocks record of 52, set by Jon Ekey in 2010-11. The single-season record for blocks is 103, set by Jeff Wilkins in 1976-77. Lynch has led ISU in blocks in 15 games and he already ranks No. 22 on the career-blocks list.
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 ahead of where last year's much more experienced Redbird team was at this point in last season's conference standings, despite last year's squad consisting of four seniors and just two scholarship-newcomers. Last year's ISU team was 9-8 and 0-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference after its first 17 games, while the 2013-14 Redbirds are currently 10-7 and 3-2 in the Valley.
ZEISLOFT AGAIN NAMED SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Redshirts sophomore Nick Zeisloft was selected as the Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Week for the third time this season (Jan. 15). Zeisloft maintains a 3.71 cumulative grade-point average (GPA) in Finance and is a four-time AFNI Honor Roll Member.
HOME COURT STREAK
With ISU's overtime win over Evansville Wednesday, the Redbirds have now won seven-consecutive games on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena, marking ISU's longest home-court winning streak since winning seven-in-a-row at the end of the 2009-10 season. That streak extended to 12-consecutive wins in 2010-11. The Redbirds will try to extend their streak by hosting currently No. 5 Wichita State Wednesday, Jan. 22. At No. 5, the Shockers would be the highest-ranked team to ever play at Redbird Arena.
MAKING A STATE-MENT
After earning a win over Loyola Saturday, Illinois State improved to a perfect 5-0 against NCAA Division I teams in the state of Illinois this season. ISU's 5-0 in-state mark is the best among Illinois' 13 D-I teams, with Northern Illinois and Western Illinois maintaining the only other undefeated records of 1-0. The Redbirds have four more chances to earn in-state victories during the regular-season.
Along with freshman guard Reggie Lynch's Valley-best 2.4 blocks per game, he is also second in the league in field goal percentage at 59.8 percent (52-for-87). Meanwhile, teammate Bobby Hunter ranks No. 4 in MVC three-point shooting with a 43.6 percent average (17-for-39). As a team, Illinois State ranks first in Valley three-pointers - and 53rd in the nation - (7.8 per game) and second in league blocks (4.4).
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