Wyoming received votes in this week's AP Poll (39th) and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll (34th).
Illinois State has come within three points of beating FBS programs in both of ISU's last two games. The Redbirds lost, 72-69, in overtime to Northwestern on Nov. 24, followed by a 69-66 loss at No. 5 Louisville on Saturday, Dec. 1. In both of ISU's losses, the Redbirds led at halftime (26-23 versus Northwestern and 33-25 versus Louisville). Illinois State also outshot both opponents (42.1 percent versus Northwestern's 33.9 percent, and 52.1 percent versus Louisville's 45.5 percent).
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?
Illinois State senior guard Tyler Brown scored a game-high 25 points at fifth-ranked Louisville as the Birds fell, 69-66. Brown has been impressive in games vs. top-25 teams in his career, averaging 17.2 points in six total games. Doug McDermott (20.0 ppg in two games) and Anthony Downing (18.3 ppg in four games) are the only two in the MVC with a higher scoring average vs. top-25 teams.
After freshman starting point guard Kaza Keane sprained his right ankle in practice last week, he did not play during Illinois State's game at No. 5 Louisville. Fortunately for the Redbirds, Johnny Hill and Anthony Cousin teamed up to fill Kean's void. Hill, who made his first-career start in place of Keane, dished out a game-best six assists, scored eight points, grabbed two rebounds and collected one steal in 27 minutes of play. Cousin ran the point for 12 minutes with two assists and two rebounds.
THE B&C SCORING CO.
Illinois State senior guard Tyler Brown and senior forward Jackie Carmichael are scoring points like it is their job this season. Brown and Carmichael have both netted 20 or more points in the same game on three occasions this season, including against No. 5 Louisville on Saturday, Dec. 1 (Brown: 25 points, Carmichael: 20 points). They have also both netted double-figure efforts in two additional games, meaning that Brown and Carmichael have both tallied 10 or more points in the same five-out-of-seven games this season.
BACK-TO-BACK 30-POINT GAMES
Senior guard Tyler Brown and junior guard Bryant Allen each scored 30 or more points in back-to-back games at the South Padre Island Invitational in South Padre Island, Texas. Allen netted a career-high 30 points, on 9-for-15 shooting (60.0 percent), in Illinois State's win over UAB on Nov. 23. In doing so, he became the first Redbird since 2010 to score 30 points in a game. While it previously took two years between 30-point games, Brown accomplished the feat 24 hours after Allen, against Northwestern on Nov. 24. He netted a career-high 36 points on 12-for-20 shooting (60.0 percent), which was the fourth-highest scoring output in the nation this season, and the most points scored by a Redbird since Tarise Bryson tallied 41 against Central Michigan on Dec. 3, 2000.
While Illinois State's offense is averaging a blistering 82.3 points per game this season, the Redbird defense is simultaneously stifling the competition. Opponents are averaging just 66.9 points per game, a +15.4 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 125 turnovers compared to 106 turnovers of their own, a +2.7 margin. In the win over UAB on 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.
Illinois State continues to rank among some of the top teams in the nation statistically. The Redbirds are 17th in points per game (82.3), 22nd in scoring margin (+15.4), 10th in field goal percentage (50.7) and 16th in assists per game (17.6). Additionally, ISU guard Tyler Brown ranks 35th with 19.7 points per game, forward Jackie Carmichael ranks 32nd with a 59.0 percent field goal shooting percentage and point guard Kaza Keane ranks 32nd with 5.8 assists per game.
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 123-to-106 (1.2) assist to turnover ratio through the first seven 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 on Nov. 20, and versus Northwestern on Nov. 24.
At least three Redbirds have netted double-figures five of ISU's six 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). The Redbirds are 5-0 when three or more players score in double-figures, and 0-2 when less than three net double-figures.
THESE BIRDS CAN FLY!
If the first seven 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. The Redbirds went on a 17-4 run to begin the game at No. 5 Louisville (Dec. 1).
THE ALLEN WRENCH
Junior Bryant Allen proved to be ISU's most useful tool 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.