The last meeting between Illinois State and Northwestern occurred Dec. 18, 1996. The Redbirds won, 67-47, in Evanston, Ill. Current ISU head coach Dan Muller was a junior on that team. He was also a freshman on the ISU team the beat Northwestern at home, 86-68, on Dec. 31, 1994.
THE ALLEN WRENCH
Junior Bryant Allen proved to be ISU's most useful tool Friday, Nov. 23, in the win over UAB. Allen netted a career-high 30 points and was credited with a career-best six steals. In doing so, he became the first Redbird since Dinma Odiakosa to score 30 points in a game. Odiakosa accomplished the feat Feb. 17, 2010, versus Missouri State. Allen also recorded the first five-plus steal effort since Anthony Cousin had five steals at Bradley, Feb. 26, 2011. Allen leads ISU with 13 steals this season, with an average of 2.6 steals per game.
While Illinois State's offense is averaging a blistering 88.2 points per game this season, the Redbird defense is simultaneously stifling the competition. Opponents are averaging just 65.4 points per game, a +22.8 scoring margin. Illinois State has not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 50 percent from the field, and ISU has not been outshot by the opposition at any point this season. The Redbirds have also forced 92 turnovers compared to 64 turnovers of their own, a +5.6 margin. In the win over UAB, Nov. 23, ISU forced the Blazers to commit 27 turnovers, which marked the first time that an opponent has been charged with 25 or more turnovers since Missouri-St. Louis had 34 on Nov. 7, 2007.
THEY SAY IT'S BETTER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE
In the spirit of the holiday season, Illinois State is spreading the scoring cheer with a 96-to-64 (1.5) assist to turnover ratio through the first five games. ISU has teamed up for two 20-plus assists games this year, and freshman Kaza Keane amassed a Redbird season-high nine assists against Fairleigh Dickinson, Nov. 20.
By beating Fairleigh Dickinson, 91-58, Nov. 20, Illinois State tallied its fourth-straight 80-plus performance this season, a feat that had not been done since the 1977-78 season, when the Redbirds opened up 4-0, scoring 80 or more points in all four of those contests. ISU had not scored 80-plus points in four consecutive games at any point during a season since a four-game stretch from Dec. 17 - Dec. 31, 2000. The Redbirds are now averaging 88.2 points per game and shooting 52 percent. Prior to the UAB game, ISU ranked fourth in the nation in points per game and field goal percentage.
The Illinois State bench has outscored opposing benches, 153-79, through the first five games this season. ISU's bench has only been outscored once, 11-8, during the win over UAB, Nov. 23. The Redbirds' most dominating bench performance occurred in the win over Fairleigh Dickinson, Nov. 20, when Illinois State finished with a 42-4 advantage over the Knights' bench.
At least three Redbirds have netted double-figures in each of ISU's five games this season. Four reached double-figures in the opener versus UC Santa Barbara, Nov. 12, five scored double-figures at Drexel, Nov. 15., three tallied double-figures against Delaware State, Nov. 18, four reached double-figures versus Fairleigh Dickinson, Nov. 20, and three scored double-figures against UAB, Nov. 23.
THESE BIRDS CAN FLY!
If the first five games are any indication of what's to come, the 2012-13 Redbirds will maintain a high-energy, fast-paced tempo, which can lead to explosive scoring runs. During the first half against UC Santa Barbara Nov. 12, the game was tied, 6-6, before the Redbirds went on a 21-0 run over five-plus minutes to take a 27-6 advantage. Against Delaware State Nov. 18, ISU out-scored the Hornets 27-4 off the fast-break, and the Redbirds went on a 27-4 run in the final 6:30 of the first half. Versus Fairleigh Dickinson Nov. 20, ISU started the second half with a 20-1 run to establish a 71-38 advantage. Against UAB Nov. 23, Illinois State used a 13-2 run to take its first lead after falling behind early in the first half.
CARMICHAEL MOVES INTO SECOND ON THE BLOCKED SHOTS LIST
With a season-best five blocked shots performance in the win over UAB Nov. 23, ISU senior forward Jackie Carmichael moved into second place on the career blocked shots list, with 145. He surpassed LeRoy Watkins, who had 143. Carmichael is now 15 blocks away from tying the record of 160 set by Greg Dilligard, who played from 2003-07. Carmichael already has 13 blocks through the first five games.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARDED TO CARMICHAEL
Redbird senior forward Jackie Carmichael is the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week, as announced by the league office Monday, Nov. 19. Carmichael set or tied a career high in four categories, including points (27), field goals (13), field goal attempts (20) and assists (3), in Illinois State's season-opening win against UC Santa Barbara Nov. 12, and he then led the Redbirds offensively with a 21-point performance during ISU's overtime win at Drexel Nov. 15. With Drexel leading, 75-73, Carmichael was fouled with 2.0 seconds remaining and proceeded to hit two pressure-packed free throws to send the game into overtime. The Valley Player of the Week award is the first for Illinois State since Carmichael won it Jan. 30, 2012. That was the lone player of the week honor awarded to the Redbirds last season.
HAVE YOU SEEN KEANE?
True-freshman guard Kaza Keane has started all five games for Illinois State this season, and is averaging 5.2 assists per game, with 26 assists and only 10 turnovers. He is also averaging 5.0 points on 44.0 percent shooting from the field. In his first game as a college player, Keane dished a team-best five assists and scored five points versus UC Santa Barbara Nov. 12. During his first-ever road game at Drexel Nov. 15, Keane was credited with four assists, including an alley-oop to senior guard Tyler Brown, which was featured on ESPN's Top 10 Plays. He also netted four points and committed only one turnover to help the Redbirds beat the Dragons. Keane set a career high with nine assists in ISU's win against Fairleigh Dickinson, Nov. 20, and he scored a career-best nine points during Illinois State's win over UAB Nov. 23.
BEAT THE BEST TO BE THE BEST
The Redbirds earned a road victory against one of the highest preseason-rated mid-major programs in the nation Nov. 15, as ISU held off Drexel in overtime. The Dragons won the 2011-12 Colonial Athletic Association title and are favored to win it again this season. Drexel also received five votes in the preseason AP Top 25 Poll, and two points in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Dragons will make the return trip to Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena on Nov. 12, 2013. Illinois State has not received votes in either of the two polls since Jan. 2009, and the Redbirds have not been ranked since 1998.