ISU's last victory against CU occurred on Feb. 13, 2010, with the Redbirds winning, 67-63, in Omaha, Neb. Head coach Dan Muller never lost to Creighton as a player from 1994-98.
WHERE TO WATCH: ISU AT No. 16 CREIGHTON
ESPN2: Comcast Ch. 31/924, DirecTV Ch. 209, Dish Ch. 144, AT&T U-Verse Ch. 606
LAST MEETING: No. 16 CREIGHTON HOLDS OFF ILLINOIS STATE, 79-72
NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State (9-5, 0-2 MVC at the time) led twice in the second half and battled back to even the score two other times, but No. 16 Creighton (13-1, 2-0 MVC at the time) held on for a 79-72 conference victory in front of a season-high (at the time) 8,813 fans on Jan. 2 at Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. A Bryant Allen three-pointer with 9:21 left in the second half gave the Redbirds their first lead since the 18:20 mark of the first half at 63-61. After a three-point play from Creighton's Gregory Echenique, Jon Ekey scored his only two points of the game on a driving floater in the lane to give ISU a 65-64 lead with 7:17 remaining. However, the Bluejays responded with five-straight points to regain the lead for good. Allen and Tyler Brown led the way for the Redbirds with 15 points apiece, while Zeke Upshaw chipped in a career-high 11 points.
BIGGEST COMEBACK SINCE '04
Illinois State overcame a 17-point first-half deficit to beat Drake by eight points, 94-86, Wednesday evening. The come-from-behind victory tied for the third-best comeback in Redbird history and the biggest since ISU also overcame a 17-point disadvantage at home against Drake on Mar. 1, 2004. Illinois State beat the Bulldogs, 73-68, with current ISU Associate Head Coach Dana Ford contributing two points, three assists, two rebounds and one steal off of the bench. ISU has now overcome four 17-point deficits, one 18-point deficit and one 21-point deficit (Nov. 27, 1989), which was the largest comeback in program history.
The Redbirds scored a scorching 94 points, including 54 in the second half, during the win at Drake on Wednesday night. It marked the first time since 2001 that ISU has netted more than 90 points against a Missouri Valley Conference foe. The last time that happened, ISU won at Evansville, 94-87, in double-overtime on Feb. 12, 2001. Illinois State has now scored 90 or more points three times this season, and 80 or more points nine times, including in each of ISU's last two victories. ISU is 9-0 when netting 80 or more.
REDBIRDS ARE RED HOT
ISU has recorded its top three Valley shooting percentages over the last three games (45.8 percent versus Bradley, 46.2 percent against Southern Illinois and 48.3 percent at Drake). ISU's blistering 54.2 percent (13-for-24) three-point effort at Bradley on Jan. 29, was also an overall season high, along with the Redbirds' 54-point second half at Drake on Wednesday night.
Part of Illinois State's recent success can be attributed to success at the foul line. In Illinois State's five Valley victories, the Redbirds have averaged 21.2 free throws on 28.2 attempts. In contrast, ISU averaged 15.4 free throws (a difference of 5.8) on 21.1 attempts (a difference of 7.1) during the Redbirds' seven conference losses. Illinois State made a season-high 32 charity shots on 36 attempts, which was the most by ISU in a game since the Redbirds made 33 versus SIUE on Nov. 14, 2010. It also marked the first time during Illinois State's Valley era (1982-present) that three Redbirds have each netted nine or more free throws in the same game. ISU is now 11-1 this season when the Redbirds shoot more free throws than their opponent.
THE DIFFERENCE IS DEFENSE
Illinois State has won five out of its last six Missouri Valley Conference games, thanks in large part to improved defense. During ISU's five Valley victories, the Redbirds have held the opposition to 61.8 points per game, compared to the 75.3 points per game averaged during ISU's Valley losses (a difference of 13.5 points). Illinois State has also limited the opposition to 39.8 percent shooting in league wins, contrasted with a 47.4 percent clip allowed in conference losses (a 7.6 percent difference).
With 10 steals recorded during Illinois State's win at Drake on Feb. 6, the Redbirds improved to 7-0 this season when they record 10 or more steals in a game. It marked the second time that ISU has collected double-digit steals in a Missouri Valley Conference game this year.
CLOSING IN ON COACH
Senior forward Jackie Carmichael enters the Creighton game with 1,440-career points, which ranks 11th overall. The former Redbird who stands between Carmichael and the top-10 is current ISU head coach Dan Muller. As a player from 1994-98, Muller is in 10th place with 1,445 points, which means Carmichael must net five points to tie Muller's point-total. Carmichael will likley also make his 100th start Feb. 9 at Creighton.
WILKINS KEYS SUCCESS
Senior guard/forward John Wilkins made his first start of the season in Illinois State's win at Southern Illinois on Jan. 20. He has started every game since, and is averaging 10.7 points and 4.2 rebounds during the starting-stretch. He has also shot a team-best 58.3 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from beyond the arc and 93.3 percent from the free throw line during the last six contests. The Antibes, France, native recorded a season-high 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field in the win at Drake on Feb. 6.
THE 'BIRDS NEED BROWN
Senior guard Tyler Brown, who averaged 17.3 points per game through the non-conference season, cooled off at the beginning of Illinois State's Valley season. During the Redbirds' six-game losing streak, Brown was held to 10.4 points per game. However, the Owensboro, Ky., native has been instrumental in Illinois State's recent success. Since snapping the skid, Brown has averaged 18.0 points per game. He led ISU with 25 points on Feb. 6 at Drake, plus Brown tallied a career-high nine assists with four steals.
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 25.4 percent of the Redbirds' league points, and 29.5 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 2.9 percent increase in his offensive contribution and a 7.3 percent increase in rebounding.
Redbird senior forward Jackie Carmichael earned his 31st-career double-double and 11th of the season during Illinois State's victory against Southern Illinois on Feb. 2. He is now tied for third on the career double-doubles list with Billy Lewis (31), and behind Jeff Wilkins (42) and Ron DeVries (50).
JACKIE'S BLOCK PARTY
Senior forward Jackie Carmichael had one block Wednesday at Drake to give him 180 for his career - that ranks seventh-best all-time in the MVC. Only two Valley players since 1991 have had more (Grant Stout of UNI-222 from 2003-07; and Randal Falker of SIU-195 from 2004-08).
Illinois State walk-on freshman Matt Stacho made his collegiate debut in the win over Southern Illinois on Feb. 2. Stacho checked in at the 3:09 mark following a "We want Stacho!" chant from the Redbird student section. Stacho took advantage of his playing time, stealing the ball and scoring on a fast-break layup with 2:04 to play for his first collegiate points.
THIS IS SPORTSCENTER
ISU was featured again on ESPN's Top Plays list last week. A dunk by Jackie Carmichael at Bradley earned the No. 4 spot during the Jan. 29 edition of SportsCenter. Earlier this season, two Tyler Brown dunks from ISU's win over Drexel made the list. No. 5 was an alley-oop dunk from Bryant Allen, and No. 4 was an alley-oop dunk from Kaza Keane. Carmichael made his second Top Plays appearance, after also earning a spot last season for a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Evansville on Jan. 7, 2012.
Illinois State is 10-2 overall, and 4-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference, when the Redbirds hold the opposition below 70 points. ISU accomplished this defensive feat during its three-game Valley winning streak (Jan. 20: Illinois State 70, Southern Illinois 56) (Jan. 23: Illinois State 60, Indiana State 58) (Jan. 26: Illinois State 67, Evansville 62). ISU is also 12-4 overall and 3-4 in the Valley, when the Redbirds score 70 or more points in a game. Illinois State's wins against Indiana State and Evansville marked the first time that ISU has been held below 70 points, and still won.
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's ensuing three-game winning streak was ended with a loss at Bradley on Jan. 29, before the Redbirds bounced back with back-to-back wins against Southern Illinois on Feb. 2 and at Drake on Feb. 6. Illinois State is 10-3 when coming off of a win and 3-7 when coming off of a loss.
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.
CARMICHAEL NAMED VALLEY PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Illinois State senior forward Jackie Carmichael was the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week, as announced by the league office Monday, Jan. 28. Carmichael received the honor for the third time this season and the fifth time in his career, after averaging 20.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in wins against Indiana State and Evansville last week. The Manhattan, Kan., native earned his 30th-career double-double and 10th of the season during ISU's victory over Evansville on Jan. 26. Against the Purple Aces, Carmichael was 8-for-10 from the field (80.0 percent) and 8-for-12 at the free throw line (66.7 percent), as he netted a game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds, with three blocked shots and one assist. In Illinois State's win against Indiana State on Jan. 23, Carmichael scored 16 points with nine rebounds, three blocks, two assists and one steal. Carmichael has now netted double figures in 15-consecutive games, including 21 out of 23 games this year and 67 during his career.