The Braves return three starters from a team that finished 12-20 last season and finished tied for ninth place in the Valley.
THE CARMICHAEL 500
Jackie Carmichael enters the Bradley game with 495 career rebounds. With just five more boards, Carmichael will become only the 31st player in Illinois State history to grab 500 or more career rebounds. Carmichael will also join an elite group, as one of only five Redbirds to collect 800 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocked shots in a career.
CONSISTENT CARMICHAEL = CONSISTENT WINNING
In 14 games this season, Jackie Carmichael has scored in double-figures. In those contests, the Redbirds have posted a 10-4 record. Carmichael has also collected nine double-digit rebound games this season, resulting in a 7-2 Redbird mark. When he posts a double-double, ISU is 6-1 this season.
Junior John Wilkins bears the nickname "Frenchy" from his teammates, being born on French soil. Wilkins is also being called on to be the Redbird stopper this year by the ISU coaching staff. Boasting similar traits used to describe the "French Defence," Wilkins brings solidarity and resilience to the Redbird defensive game plan. Already this season, Wilkins has proven to be a challenge against some of the Valley's best.
Junior Anthony Cousin started the year with 14 combined turnovers in the first four games. Since then, over 18 games, he has not committed more than two turnovers in a single game. In the last five games, a span of 132 minutes, Cousin has only one turnover and 11 assists.
IT'S ALL DEFENSE AND REBOUNDING
It sounds a little cliché, but for Illinois State it is a reality. When comparing the Redbirds' stats in wins and losses, the variances on defensive field goal percentage and rebounding margin is astounding. In victory, Illinois State is holding its opponents to 37.9 percent shooting, while losses have had Redbird foes shooting 47.5 percent. In wins, the Redbirds own a +7.1 rebounding margin, but have a -5.9 margin in defeat.
After Bryant Allen's career-high 29 points against Creighton, ISU now has eight players on the roster who have scored at least 20 points in an NCAA Division I game. The eight Redbird players is the most by any team in the Valley. Jackie Carmichael has seven 20-point efforts in his career, including three this season, while Tyler Brown also has three this season and Anthony Cousin, John Wilkins, Nic Moore and Jon Ekey have each posted one 20-point game. Trey Blue had a 20-point effort while playing at Fordham.
WHAT BROWN CAN DO FOR YOU
Tyler Brown has made at least one three-pointer in 19 games this season and is leading the team with 50 made threes and a 44.6 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Brown is third in the Valley with 2.3 made three-point field goals per contest and has made more than one trey in 15 games.
HOME SWEET HOME
Illinois State is in its 24th season of basketball action on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. Under head coach Tim Jankovich, the Redbirds are 65-16 (.802) when playing at home. ISU owns a 249-92 (.730) all-time record on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.
Sophomore Bryant Allen arrived on campus as a member of the Redbird football team. After his 29-point outburst against Creighton, Allen is proving himself as a legitimate threat on the hardwood. Allen's 29 tallies were the most scored by a Redbird this season and the most since Dinma Odiakosa poured in 30 points against Missouri State on Feb. 17, 2010.
THE PROOF IS IN THE NUMBERS
Jackie Carmichael is one of the candidates for the 2012 Larry Bird Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Award and should challenge for a first-team all-conference spot. Carmichael is averaging 13.3 points and a league-best 8.6 rebounds this season, which is coincidently right in line with Dinma Odiakosa's numbers following the 2009-10 season. Odiakosa, who is the last Redbird post player to earn first-team all-league honors, averaged 12.8 points and 8.7 rebounds that season. In league play, Carmichael is averaging a team-best 13.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
387-STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TREY
Illinois State enters the Bradley game with at least one made three in 387-straight games. The last time ISU didn't sink a trey was an 82-43 loss at Creighton, Dec. 12, 1999.
DON'T LET THE NAME FOOL YOU
ISU has had six different players account for this season's starting lineup, yet none of them are from the state of Illinois. The 'Birds have started players from Kansas (Jackie Carmichael), Missouri (Jon Ekey), Alaska (Anthony Cousin), Indiana (Nic Moore), Kentucky (Tyler Brown) and France (John Wilkins).
Nic Moore is stating his claim as the Valley's top freshman this season. With 9.2 points per game, Moore is also averaging 3.7 assists per game. Moore leads the Redbirds in assists (85) and steals (22).
MOORE TO COME
Freshman Nic Moore has dished out at least three assists in 17 games this season. He leads the team with 85 dimes and boasts a 1.63 assist-to-turnover ratio. Moore has dished out five or more assists in a game seven different times this season, with six resulting in a Redbird victory. Moore collected more assists this season, through 19 games, than any Redbird had last season in 31 games.
ISU's Jon Ekey is elevating his game during league play. In non-conference games, Ekey averaged 4.1 rebounds per contest, but since Valley play has started, Ekey is collecting 6.2 boards per game. Ekey's Valley average is second on the team, only trailing Jackie Carmichael's 8.9 rebounds per contest.
LETHAL WEAPON 3
Illinois State is averaging 8.3 made three-pointers per game this season, which is second-best in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Redbirds are also No. 20 nationally in treys per game. In the Tim Jankovich-era, the Redbirds have made 1,089 threes, or 7.0 treys per game.
JUST THE HALF OF IT
The fate of Illinois State's basketball team can pretty much be decided by only 20 minutes of play. In the Tim Jankovich-era, the Redbirds boast a 70-10 (.875) mark when leading at the half. In addition, ISU owns a 84-7 mark (.923) under Jankovich when leading with five minutes remaining in regulation.
Tyler Brown has been sinking treys this season at a mad clip. He's shooting 44.6 percent from beyond the arc, and at this rate, Brown would have the highest three-point percentage by a Redbird since Levi Dyer shot 48.0 percent during the 2006-07 season.
THE GREAT WHITE NORTH
Illinois State got a jump on the 2011-12 season with a four-game tour to Canada in August. The Redbirds posted a 2-2 mark, while facing off against collegiate programs in Canada, as well as professional all-star teams. In addition to the four games, the Redbirds were also granted, per NCAA rules, 10 days of practice leading up to the trip.
THE NEXT BEST THING
Illinois State has a pair of players this season who were runner-up for Mr. Basketball in their respective home state. Junior Anthony Cousin was runner-up for Mr. Basketball in Alaska in 2008, while in 2011, Nic Moore was runner-up for Mr. Basketball in Indiana.
THAT 70's SHOW
ISU's success during the Tim Jankovich-era has been pretty much based on 70 points. When the Redbirds score 70 or more points, Illinois State owns a 54-14 record (.794) in his five seasons. When ISU opponent's score less than 70 points, the Redbirds are 82-29 (.739) during that span.
TWO GUARDS SIGN FOR 2012-13 SEASON
North Chicago High School point guard Aaron Simpson and Anthony Beane Jr., a product of Normal Community High School and the son of Illinois State assistant basketball coach Anthony Beane Sr., will continue their collegiate and basketball careers at Illinois State, after each signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) during the NCAA early signing period. Last season, Simpson averaged 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, while sinking 71 three-point field goals. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior also led North Chicago to a fourth-place finish at the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class 3A State Tournament. Beane, who was named the 2011 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, started the last two seasons at NCHS and averaged 14.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game last year. He led the Ironmen to a fourth-place finish at the IHSA Class 4A State Tournament.