Head coach Dan Muller owned a 7-3 record against Southern Illinois as a player from 1994-98.
LOOKING FOR FIRST VALLEY WIN
The Redbirds travel to Southern Illinois in search of their first Missouri Valley Conference win of the season, after beginning 0-6, which is the slowest start since ISU went 0-8 to begin the 2010-11 Valley season.
A SHINY QUARTER
In Missouri Valley Conference Play, Jackie Carmichael has accounted for more than a quarter of Illinois State's total offense and nearly a third of ISU's rebounds. The senior forward is credited with 25.9 percent of the Redbirds' league points, and 32.0 percent of their conference rebounds. During non-conference play, Carmichael was responsible for 22.5 percent of Illinois State's offense and 22.2 percent of ISU's rebounding, representing a 3.4 percent increase in his offensive contribution and a 9.8 percent increase in rebounding.
Only three Redbirds - Bryant Allen, Johnny Hill and Zeke Upshaw are averaging more points per game in Valley play compared to the non-conference season (Allen 12.2 vs. 9.4, Hill 9.8 vs. 5.8, Upshaw 4.4 vs. 1.7).
DEFENSE WINS GAMES
The old adage, "defense wins championships" might be cliché, but it is true when describing the Redbirds this season. ISU is 6-2 when Illinois State holds opponents under 70 points. The Redbirds are also 6-0 when they record 10-plus steals, 4-3 when they block five-plus shots and 8-4 when they force more turnovers than their opponent.
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 14.2 points below their non-conference average. ISU is averaging 66.8 points per game in the Valley compared to 81.0 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 67.5 points per game in the non-conference season, a difference of 6.5 points.
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 six-game Valley skid. Illinois State is 7-2 when coming off of a win and 1-7 when coming off of a loss this season.
While Illinois State typically dominated the first half of its non-conference games, that has not been the case for the Redbirds in Valley play. 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 in five out of six league contests at halftime, and are being outscored 205 to 173 in the opening stanza. ISU faced its largest halftime deficit, 31-20, in the loss at Wichita State on Jan. 16.
At least three Redbirds have netted double-figures in 15 of Illinois State's 18 games this season, including five out of Illinois State's six Valley 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), three earned double-figures versus Drake (Jan. 12), and four scored double-figures at Wichita State. Jackie Carmichael has netted double-digit efforts 16 times this year to lead the way for ISU.
Through ISU's first six 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 Valley 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 ISU's last two games, Ekey, Carmichael, Kaza Keane, Allen and Hill started, in place of Brown.
A FEW POSSESSIONS AWAY
The Redbirds have lost their first six Valley games by an average deficit of 7.2 points. Six out of Illinois State's nine 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 have been held to a season-low 62 points twice this season.
FREE THROW INDICATOR
When the Redbirds get to the free throw line more than their opponent, they typically win. When they don't, they typically lose. The Redbirds are 7-1 when they shoot more free throws, and 2-8 when they shoot less.
Redbird senior forward Jackie Carmichael has recorded a double-double in six out of his last eight games, including a 19-point, 12-rebound effort against Drake last Saturday (Jan. 12). He was held one rebound shy of a double-double (22 points, nine rebounds) at Wichita State on Wednesday night. Carmichael has tallied double-figures in 10-consecutive games and 16 out of 18 games so far this season and 62 throughout his career. He has also totaled eight double-doubles this year and 29 throughout his career, which ranks third-best in the past 25 years in the MVC.
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 11 career starts. He amassed career highs in points (24) and rebounds (9) in the loss to Drake on Jan. 12. He is averaging 13.3 points and 5.0 rebounds over the last three games.
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.
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 (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 six games.
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.
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).