The Purple Aces return three starters from a team which finished 16-16 last season and advanced to the CBI Tournament, before falling at Boise State in the second round.
During the 2010-11 season, Illinois State collected 12 victories and four Missouri Valley Conference wins over a 31-game schedule. Through 19 games this season, the Redbirds own a 12-7 overall record and a 4-4 league mark. The same win totals as a year ago in 61.2 percent of the games.
THERE'S THE D
After allowing four of its previous six opponents to shoot better than 50 percent from the field, Illinois State tightened up the screws on its defense Wednesday night against Indiana State. The Redbirds held the Sycamores to 32.3 percent shooting, while holding them without a field goal for the final 5:01, as Indiana State missed its final 11 field goal attempts.
Illinois State has held nine opponents this season to under 40 percent shooting, including three Valley teams, and three teams to under 30 percent.
After Bryant Allen's career-high 29 points against Creighton, ISU now has eight players on the roster who have scored at least 20 points in an NCAA Division I game. The eight Redbird players is the most by any team in the Missouri Valley Conference. Jackie Carmichael has six 20-point efforts in his career, including two this season, while Tyler Brown also has two this season and Anthony Cousin, John Wilkins, , Nic Moore and Jon Ekey have each posted one 20-point game. Trey Blue had a 20-point effort while playing at Fordham.
WHAT BROWN CAN DO FOR YOU
Junior college transfer Tyler Brown has made at least one three-pointer in 16 games this season and is leading the team with 45 made threes and a 45.5 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Brown is second in the Valley with 2.5 made three-point field goals per contest and has made more than one trey in 13 games. He has also posted double-digit scoring totals in six of the last seven games.
CONSISTENT CARMICHAEL = CONSISTENT WINNING
In 12 games this season, Jackie Carmichael has scored in double-figures. In those contests, the Redbirds have posted an 8-4 record. Carmichael has also collected seven double-digit rebound games this season, resulting in a 5-2 Redbird mark. When he posts a double-double, ISU is 4-1 this season.
NO POINTS ALLOWED
This season, Illinois State has held opponents to single-game point totals of 36, 38, 41, 51, 54 and 55. As a result, Redbird foes are averaging 62.5 points scored, which is the third-best scoring defense in the Missouri Valley Conference and ranks No. 77 nationally. If this pace were to continue, it would be the lowest points allowed by the Redbirds since the 2007-08 season (59.3 ppg.).
For the second time this season, and the second time against a Valley opponent, Illinois State had two players register double-doubles in the same game. Against Indiana State on Jan. 18, Jackie Carmichael collected 17 points and 11 rebounds, while John Wilkins posted 13 points and 11 boards. Against Northern Iowa on Dec. 29, Carmichael had 19 points and 10 caroms, while Jon Ekey scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
GOOD TIME FOR A THREE
Entering the game against Evansville at Redbird Arena, Jackie Carmichael was 0-for-3 from three during his career. But, with 2.8 seconds remaining, Carmichael banked home his first-career triple from the left side at the buzzer to lift the Redbirds to a 75-73 win over the Purple Aces. The shot resulted in ESPN's Top Play of the Day and is still Carmichael's only career three-point make.
TY-ING ONE ON
Over the last seven games, no Redbird is hotter than junior Tyler Brown. With six double-digit scoring efforts during that span, including a career-best 24 points on Jan. 18 against Indiana State. Brown leads the team over that period with 14.4 points per game.
Sophomore Bryant Allen arrived on campus as a member of the Redbird football team. After his 29-point outburst against Creighton, Allen is proving himself as a legitimate threat on the hardwood. Allen's 29 tallies were the most scored by a Redbird this season and the most since Dinma Odiakosa poured in 30 points against Missouri State on Feb. 17, 2010.
THE ROAD WARRIOR
Illinois State's Tyler Brown has raised his level of play in Valley games, especially the road league contests. In conference games, Brown leads the Redbirds with 12.9 points per game. On road Valley games, Brown is averaging 13.3 points and is shooting 46.2 percent (12-for-26) on threes.
LET'S GET FR-EKEY
Redbird sophomore Jon Ekey collected two double-digit scoring games during his first season at Illinois State, but this season he already has posted 10 double-figure games. He also added a string of three-straight double-digit rebound games.
DON'T LET THE NAME FOOL YOU
ISU has had six different players account for this season's starting lineup, yet none of them are from the state of Illinois. The 'Birds have started players from Kansas (Jackie Carmichael), Missouri (Jon Ekey), Alaska (Anthony Cousin), Indiana (Nic Moore), Kentucky (Tyler Brown) and France (John Wilkins).
MOORE TO COME
Freshman Nic Moore has dished out at least three assists in 15 games this season. He leads the team with 72 dimes and boasts a 1.71 assist-to-turnover ratio. Moore has dished out five or more assists in a game six different times this season, each resulting in a Redbird victory. Moore collected more assists this season, through 19 games, than any Redbird had last season in 31 games.
THE PROOF IS IN THE NUMBERS
Jackie Carmichael is one of the candidates for the 2012 Larry Bird Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Award and should challenge for a first-team all-conference spot. Carmichael is averaging 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds this season, which is coincidently right in line with Dinma Odiakosa's numbers following the 2009-10 season. Odiakosa, who is the last Redbird post player to earn first-team all-league honors, averaged 12.8 points and 8.7 rebounds that season.
Illinois State's Jon Ekey is elevating his game during league play. In non-conference games, Ekey averaged 4.1 rebounds per contest, but since Valley play has started, Ekey is collecting 7.1 boards per game. Ekey's Valley average is second on the team, only trailing Jackie Carmichael's 8.1 rebounds per contest. In Valley road games, Ekey is posting 8.0 rebounds per game.
LETHAL WEAPON 3
Illinois State is averaging 8.5 made three-pointers per game this season, which is second-best in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Redbirds are also tied for No. 16 nationally in treys per game. In the Tim Jankovich-era, the Redbirds have made 1,059 threes, or 6.9 treys per game.
JUST THE HALF OF IT
The fate of Illinois State's basketball team can pretty much be decided by only 20 minutes of play. In the Tim Jankovich-era, the Redbirds boast a 70-10 (.875) mark when leading at the half. In addition, ISU owns a 84-7 mark (.923) under Jankovich when leading with five minutes remaining in regulation.
Tyler Brown has been sinking treys this season at a mad clip. He's shooting 45.5 percent from beyond the arc, and at this rate, Brown would have the highest three-point percentage by a Redbird since Levi Dyer shot 48.0 percent during the 2006-07 season.
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-star teams. In addition to the four games, the Redbirds were also granted, per NCAA rules, 10 days of practice leading up to the trip.
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.
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 53-12 record (.815) in his five seasons. When ISU opponent's score less than 70 points, the Redbirds are 80-29 (.734) during that span.
383-STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TREY
Illinois State enters the Evansville game with at least one made three in 383-straight games. The last time ISU didn't sink a trey was an 82-43 loss at Creighton, Dec. 12, 1999.
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.