In Illinois State's 75-58 win against Sonoma State Friday night, six of ISU's 10 players who saw action registered statistical career highs in one or more categories. Daishon Knight matched a career-best with 21 points (8-for-10).
Zach Lofton has recorded double-figures in all six games this season, with back-to-back 19-point efforts.
In four out of ISU's first six games this season, at least four Redbirds have recorded double-digit scoring.
ISU is now 68-40 (.629) in regular-season tournament games after beating Sonoma State Friday and losing to Vermont Wednesday at the USF Golden Gate Challenge. ISU is also 13-16 (.448) in regular-season title games.
Illinois State is currently playing in San Francisco, Calif., for the first time in program history.
At 2,100 miles one-way from Normal, Ill., to San Francisco, this is Illinois State's longest road trip of the regular-season and also the team's furthest journey since traveling to Stanford, Calif., in 2012 for its NIT matchup.
Among ISU's three opponents at the USF Golden Gate Challenge, the Redbirds faced Vermont and Sonoma State, for the first time in program history. The Redbirds own a 1-0 record against San Francisco.
Four out of Illinois State's first five opponents - including Vermont - were favored to win their respective conferences.
With just 2.5 years of previous NCAA Division I basketball experience divided amongst returners Kaza Keane, Nick Zeisloft and Matt Stacho, Illinois State is believed to have less returning experience than any other Division I team.
Illinois State is in its 44th season as a NCAA Division I program, and during that time, the Redbirds have only had eight losing seasons.
Throughout Illinois State's program history, the Redbirds have featured 20 All-American selections, two Missouri Valley Conference Larry Bird Valley Players of the Year, Four Valley Tournament Most Outstanding Players, 66 All-Valley Selections, six NCAA Tournament appearances, 12 NIT appearances, three Valley regular-season championships and four Valley Tournament championships. ABOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO DONS
The University of San Francisco is located in San Francisco, Calif., and has an enrollment of 10,000. The Dons compete at the NCAA Division I level and are members of the West Coast Conference.
The Dons return five starters from a team which finished 15-16 last season and tied for fifth place in the WCC (7-9).
Illinois State lead's the all-time series against USF, 1-0, after beating USF, 68-52, at the Cowboy Shootout in Casper, Wyo., Dec. 27, 1985.
San Francisco is picked to finish fourth in the official 2013-14 preseason WCC poll.
The Dons are 2-0 in the USF Golden Gate Challenge after beating Sonoma State, 96-73, Wednesday night, before topping Vermont, 72-61, Friday evening at War Memorial Gymnasium.
Vermont (2-6) - ISU lost, 87-76, Wed., Nov. 27
2012-13 Record: 21-12 / America East Record / Finish: 11-5 (2nd) / Postseason: CBI Tournament
Sonoma State (1-3) (NCAA Division II) - ISU won, 75-58, Fri., Nov. 29
2012-13 Record: 11-16 / California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Record / Finish: 9-13 (8th)
San Francisco (5-3) - ISU plays Sat., Nov. 30 at 10:15 p.m. CT
2012-13 Record: 15-16 / West Coast Conference (WCC) Record / Finish: 7-9 (T5th)
A KNIGHT-MARE TO GUARD
Illinois State junior guard Daishon Knight seemed to score at will in the Redbirds' win over Sonoma State Friday night. The Baltimore, Md., native, shot a blistering 8-for-10 (80.0 percent) from the field, 3-for-4 (75.0 percent) from beyond the arc and 2-for-2 (100 percent) from the free throw line en route to a 21-point effort which matched his career-high. Knight has netted double-figures in each of the last three games, and he now ranks second on the team with 13.8 points averaged per game.
HUNTING FOR CONTRIBUTIONS
Reno, Nev., native, and team co-captain Bobby Hunter does whatever he can to help his team win, and Friday's game against Sonoma State was no exception. Playing in front of family and friends who made the 200-mile journey from Reno to San Francisco, Calif., Hunter recorded career-highs in assists (4), steals (4) and rebounds (4). He also managed nine points on 3-for-7 shooting and a 2-for-2 free throw effort.
ISU sophomore guard Zach Lofton has consistently led the Redbirds' offensive attack in 2013-14. Lofton is the only Redbird to net double-figures in all six games this year. He has scored 19 points in both of ISU's games so far in the San Francisco Golden Gate Challenge (against Vermont, Nov. 27, and Sonoma State, Nov. 29). Lofton currently leads ISU in scoring with a 14.3 points per game average, and he is also 27-for-30 (90.0 percent) from the free throw line following an 8-for-8 effort versus Sonoma State. In addition to his 19 points, Lofton also registered a career-high six rebounds against the Seawolves.
A PERFECT 10
For the first time since Illinois State's home victory against Missouri State last season (Feb. 27, 2013), the Redbirds accomplished two things, 10 times, in Friday's win versus Sonoma State. ISU teamed up for 10-made three-point field goals and 10 steals during their second game at the USF Golden Gate Challenge.
OFFENSE ON TRACK
In a city where cable car tracks line various downtown streets, the Redbird men's basketball team seems to have navigated onto its own offensive track in San Francisco. After ISU combined to shoot 35.6 percent through its first four games, the Redbirds exploded with a season-best 50.0 percent (28-for-56) effort from the field during their loss to Vermont Wednesday night. Illinois State's 55.2 percent first-half performance against the Catamounts was also a season-best. ISU went on to shoot 44.0 percent (22-for-50) in Friday night's win against Sonoma State. The Redbirds are shooting 47.2 percent in their two tournament games.
Not only do Illinois State's opponents have to prepare for the Redbirds' starting five, but they also must scout ISU's bench. That is because ISU's bench has outscored its opponent's bench in five out of the first six games this season, for a total of 185-128. This is partially due to four different starting lineups. ISU's starters have remained the same at the USF Golden Gate Challenge: Lee, Knight, Hunter, Jones, Zeisloft.
Despite leading by as many as 18 points with three minutes to play in the first half of Wednesday's game against Vermont, the Redbirds' double-digit lead became a double-digit deficit in the second half, with the Catamounts leading by as many as 12 before winning by 11. ISU also saw a double-digit advantage erode from as many as 19 to as little as two at Northwestern (Nov. 17); however, ISU was able to hold off a comeback attempt to secure the road win. ISU has had a lead in five out of its first six games this year.
At least four Redbirds have reached double-figures in four out of Illinois State's first six games this season, with five players amassing double-figures in a game for the first time since November of 2012 during Illinois State's loss to Drexel (Nov. 12, 2013). So far this season, eight of ISU's players on the active roster have amassed double-figures, with Zach Lofton netting 10 or more points in all six games.
A TRIO OF FIRSTS
For the first time in program history, the Illinois State men's basketball team is playing in San Francisco, Calif., at the University of San Francisco Golden Gate Challenge. ISU is also facing two teams at the challenge - Vermont and Sonoma State - for the first time ever. The only squad that the Redbirds had experience against prior to the tournament was San Francisco, with ISU holding a 1-0 all-time record versus the Dons. Illinois State beat USF, 68-52, at the Cowboy Shootout in Casper, Wyo., Dec. 27, 1985.
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