Illinois State vs. Illinois Game Notes

Nov. 23, 2011

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For only the eighth time and the first since Jan. 3, 2004, Illinois State will play Illinois on the hardwood. The Redbirds and the Fighting Illini meet Wednesday night in the championship game of the 2011 Cancun Challenge. The game is being televised on CBS Sports Network.

QUICK HITS ABOUT #REDBIRDHOOPS

- Illinois State traveled 2,927 miles from Normal, Ill., to Cancun, Mexico to play Illinois which is only 53 miles from campus.

- The Redbirds have posted at least 70 points scored in each of their last two games, which is a first by Illinois State in non-overtime games since Nov. 14 and Nov. 17 during the 2010-11 season.

- Illinois State is looking for its first-ever win against Illinois. This is the eighth game between the two schools.

- Junior college transfer Tyler Brown has scored 19 points in each of his last two games, after being held scoreless in his first game as a Redbird.

- Illinois State has not beaten a pair of BCS schools in the same season since 2004-05, when the Redbirds knocked off Penn State, Mississippi and St. John's that season. ISU defeated Rutgers, 76-70, from the BIG EAST Tuesday night.

- Junior John Wilkins is coming off of his first career double-double. Wilkins poured in a career-best 21 points, while grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds.

- Illinois State has won 15
- Illinois State is in its 42nd season as a NCAA Division I program, and during that time, the Redbirds have only had eight losing seasons.

- Jankovich is the first coach in league history to lead his team to back-to-back Valley (@MVCSports) Tournament title games in his first two seasons.

- The Redbirds have made 17 postseason appearances, including NIT berths in three of the last four seasons.

- Head coach Tim Jankovich owns a 42-15 record (.737) against non-conference opponents during his time with the Redbirds.

ABOUT THE ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI

- Illinois is located in Champaign, Ill., and has an enrollment of 43,862. The Fighting Illini compete in the Big Ten.

- The Fighting Illini return one starter from a team which finished 20-14 last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

- The Big Ten Conference only announces the top-three teams of their preseason poll, and Illinois was not among the top three.

CHANCE AT A RARE BIG TEN WIN

Illinois State's last victory over a Big Ten team was on Nov. 14, 2004, when the Redbirds topped Penn State, 82-73, in the first round of the BCA Classic in Milwaukee, Wis. The Redbirds faced Indiana during the 2007-08 season, but suffered a 70-57 loss. ISU is 5-22 all-time against the current members of the Big Ten.

HEY, WE REMEMBER YOU

Illinois State is no stranger for Illinois' Sam Maniscalco, who had played three seasons at arch rival Bradley prior to transferring. In his three years against Illinois State, Maniscalco played in six games with five starting assignments. He averaged 8.5 points per game, while shooting 19-for-55 (.345) from the field and 10-for-33 (.303) from three. He also dished out 17 assists with seven turnovers.

HEY, WE REMEMBER YOU, PART II

Illinois head coach Bruce Weber is no stranger to the Missouri Valley Conference and Illinois State either. Prior to leading the Illini, Weber coached five seasons at Southern Illinois. With the Salukis, Weber was 8-3 against Illinois State and the Illini head coach added another win over ISU during the 2003-04 season when the Redbirds lost at Illinois in overtime, 80-73.

A HOUSE DIVIDED

The make-up of Illinois State's 2011-12 roster is pretty split - right down the middle in fact. The Redbirds return six players with game experience from last season, while welcoming six newcomers.

CAMPUS CONNECTIONS

The lines between Illinois State and Illinois are definitely blurred. To start, ISU head coach Tim Jankovich was an assistant coach at Illinois from 2002-03 with current associate head coach Wayne McLain. Redbird assistant Rob Judson played at Illinois from 1977-80, and was an assistant coach from 1996-2001. When Judson became the head coach at Northern Illinois, Illinois Director of Basketball Operations Sean Harrington was on his staff. In addition, Illinois State Director of Athletics Gary Friedman and ISU Executive Associate Athletics Director Larry Lyons each received their undergraduate degrees at Illinois.

TITLE TOWN
Over the last three seasons, Illinois State has claimed four regular

BROTHERS IN FLIGHT

Even though Illinois State and Illinois are facing each other in the championship game of the 2011 Cancun Challenge, only 53 miles separate the two campuses so it only made sense for two schools to share a charter on the way to Cancun. Either way, it should make for an interesting return flight on Thursday.

WILKINS FOR THREE ... OUI!

Junior John Wilkins, a native of Antibes, France, returns as the Redbirds' most-prolific three-point shooter from a season ago. Wilkins led the team with 33 made three-pointers and also paced the Redbirds in three-point shooting percentage, sinking treys at a 37.1 percent clip. Wilkins is 6-for-13 from beyond the arc through four games this season.

WILKINS MAKES THEM SAY ... SI!

John Wilkins made his trip to Mexico a memorable one by firing in a career-best 21 points in Tuesday's victory over Rutgers. In addition, Wilkins also grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds and posted his first career double-double.

TWENTY SOMETHING

ISU has five players on the roster who have scored at least 20 points in an NCAA Division I game. Jackie Carmichael has four 20-point efforts in his career and three last season, while Anthony Cousin, John Wilkins and Jon Ekey have each posted one 20-point game. Trey Blue had a 20-point effort while playing at Fordham.

MOORE TO COME

Freshman Nic Moore came off the bench and led the Redbirds in scoring with 13 points at Fresno State in his collegiate debut. The performance marked the first time an Illinois State freshman led the team in scoring in their first college game, since Nov. 15, 1998 when Victor Williams paced ISU with 19 points against Oakland. Coincidently, both games resulted in losses for Illinois State.

MOORE THAN SCORE

After posting double-digit points in his first two collegiate games, freshman Nic Moore showed he can do more than score and dished out a game-high six assists against Lipscomb on Saturday. With the six assists, Moore now has a team-best 12 on the season and is averaging 4.0 dimes per game.

EKEY DOUBLES DOWN

For the first time in his career, sophomore Jon Ekey has posted double-digit points in three

DOWNTOWN Tyler Brown

Junior college transfer Tyler Brown became the first Redbird in over a year to sink five three-pointers in a game, when he posted a 5-for-10 effort from beyond the arc against Lipscomb and finished with 19 points. He followed that effort Tuesday against Rutgers and posted 19 points in his second

SCORING FROM SEVEN

In only four games, Illinois State has already gotten double-digit scoring games from seven different players. Jon Ekey and Nic Moore each have three double-digit efforts on the season, while John Wilkins, Tyler Brown and Jackie Carmichael, have collected two on the year. Anthony Cousin and Johnny Hill each have one apiece.

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

THE SWAT TEAM

Last season, Illinois State's Jon Ekey and Jackie Carmichael became the first set of Missouri Valley Conference teammates to finish the regular

CLIMBING TO THE TOP OF THE HILL

Freshman Johnny Hill is another Redbird newcomer who has made an impressive debut this season. Hill collected his first career double-digit scoring game against Lipscomb Saturday, tossing in 11 points in just 13 minutes of play. On the season, Hill is averaging 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, while is fourth on the team with 14 free throw attempts.

THE RIGHT HALF IS BACK

Even though the Redbirds only return six players from last season's team, they must be the right guys. The six returning players accounted for 52.7 percent of the scoring last season, and five of the players were among the team's top

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.

MOORE TO COME

Illinois State's Nic Moore is probably the Redbirds' most highly-touted freshman since Osiris Eldridge wore the Redbird uniform in 2007. Multiple Internet sites have projected Moore as the Missouri Valley Conference's Freshman of the Year. Moore finished his prep career with 1,891 points and averaged 27.2 points per game as a senior. Over four games, Moore has scored double-digits three times and is averaging 9.0 points per game.

A TRUE AMERICAN COUSIN

Junior guard Anthony Cousin knows what it's like to go above and beyond the call of duty. As a son of an Army sergeant, Cousin has lived in Kentucky, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Alaska, Connecticut, Kansas and now Illinois. His relocations around the United States has totaled 12,016 miles, before arriving at his lifelong goal of playing NCAA Division I basketball.

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 48-10 record (.828) in his four seasons. When ISU opponent's score less than 70 points, the Redbirds are 73-26 (.737) during that span.

368 STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TREY

Illinois State enters the Illinois game with at least one made three in 368

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.