Head coach Dan Muller owned an 8-1 record against Evansville as a player from 1994-98.
SUITS AND SNEAKERS
You may notice the Illinois State and Evansville coaching staffs making an interesting fashion statement: They are wearing sneakers with their usual game attire to show support of the American Cancer Society's work to save lives from cancer. During Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers weekend, coaches across the country will be showing their support, too. More information is available at coachesvscancer.org.
Illinois State has won two-straight Missouri Valley Conference games after dropping its first six to start league play. So, what was different about the last two? ISU's defense allowed just 57.0 points per game during the winning streak, compared to 74.0 points allowed during the six-game losing stretch (a difference of 17.0 points). The Redbirds are also averaging 8.0 steals, 3.5 blocks and 13.5 forced turnovers during the last two contests, compared to 5.6 steals, 3.2 blocks and 11.8 forced turnovers in their six-consecutive losses. ISU's offense has remained consistent, with the Redbirds averaging 65.0 points over the last two wins, compared to 66.8 in the six losses (a difference of 1.8 points).
NO THREES, NO PROBLEM
Illinois State was 0-for-13 from beyond the arc in the Redbirds' win over Indiana State (Jan. 23). It snapped an ISU streak of 417 games with at least one three-pointer. The last time Illinois State did not sink a trey was an 82-43 loss at Creighton, Dec. 12, 1999.
WILKINS STEPS UP
Senior guard/forward John Wilkins made his first start of the season in Illinois State's win at Southern Illinois on Jan. 20. He started again in the Redbirds' victory over Indiana State on Jan. 23. Wilkins has averaged 9.0 points and 4.0 points per contest during the two-game winning streak. He has also shot a team-best 61.5 percent from the field during the last two games.
With 11 steals recorded during Illinois State's win over Indiana State on Jan. 23, the Redbirds improved to 6-0 this season when they record 10 or more steals in a game. It marked the first time that ISU has collected double-digit steals in a Missouri Valley Conference game this year.
Illinois State is 8-2 overall, and 2-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference, when the Redbirds hold the opposition below 70 points. ISU has accomplished this defensive feat in its last two wins (Jan. 20: Illinois State 70, Southern Illinois 56) (Jan. 23: Illinois State 60, Indiana State 58). ISU is also 10-3 overall, but 1-3 in the Valley, when the Redbirds score 70 or more points in a game. Illinois State's win against Indiana State marked the first time this year that ISU has been held below 70 points, and still won.
The Redbirds have generally held their leads this season, especially when they jump ahead early. Illinois State is 5-3 when scoring first and 10-4 when leading at halftime. The Redbirds are also 10-1 when leading with five minutes remaining in regulation.
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 recently snapped a six-game Valley skid. ISU is now on a two-game winning streak. Illinois State is 8-2 when coming off of a win and 2-7 when coming off of a loss this season.
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 14.6 points below their non-conference average. ISU is averaging 66.4 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 69.8 points per game in league play compared to 67.5 points per game in the non-conference season, a difference of 2.3 points.
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 31.2 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 9.0 percent increase in rebounding.
Redbird senior forward Jackie Carmichael earned his 29th-career double-double and ninth of the season during Illinois State's victory at Southern Illinois on Jan. 20. He now ranks fourth on the Redbird career double-doubles list behind Billy Lewis (31), Jeff Wilkins (42) and Ron DeVries (50). Carmichael has recorded a double-double in seven out of the last 10 games, including five out of eight Valley games.
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 10.6 vs. 9.6, Hill 8.4 vs. 5.8, Upshaw 4.4 vs. 1.7).
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, averaging 24.9 minutes of action per contest this year. After point guard Kaza Keane was hindered with an ankle injury, Hill stepped up to make his first 13 career starts. He amassed career highs in points (24) and rebounds (9) in the loss to Drake on Jan. 12. He is averaging 11.6 points and 4.0 rebounds over the last four games, and 7.4 points and 3.4 rebounds this season.
At least three Redbirds have netted double-figures in 15 of Illinois State's 20 games this season, including five out of Illinois State's eight 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 (Feb. 17). Jackie Carmichael has netted double-digit efforts 18 times this year, and 12-consecutive times to lead the way for ISU.
While Illinois State typically dominated the first half of its non-conference games, that has not always 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 eight league contests at halftime. ISU faced its largest halftime deficit, 31-20, in the loss at Wichita State on Jan. 16.
Through ISU's first eight Valley games, the Redbirds have utilized five 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 game against Northern Iowa. Jordan Threloff then started in place of Ekey in the game at Missouri State. It was Threloff's second-career start, and his first-ever with Carmichael. During ISU's game against Drake and at Wichita State, Ekey, Carmichael, Kaza Keane, Allen and Hill started, in place of Brown. John Wilkins then earned his first start of the year at Southern Illinois (with Hill, Allen, Brown and Carmichael). The lineup of Hill, Allen, Brown, Wilkins and Carmichael was again used against Indiana State.
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 60 points in the win over Indiana State (Jan. 23).
A WIDE MARGIN
After trailing in five out of their first six Valley games at halftime, the Redbirds established a commanding 47-21 (26-point) halftime advantage at Southern Illinois Sunday night. The Salukis' discrepancy was their largest at the intermission in SIU Arena history. Southern Illinois' 21 first-half points were the fewest allowed by ISU this season, and the 26-point lead was ISU's second-largest halftime advantage of the year. The Redbirds held the Salukis to 33.3 percent from the field, while Illinois State shot 51.4 percent in the first half.
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.
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.
Illinois State features four seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen.