Redbird Men Travel to Chicago for Sunday Afternoon Loyola Game
Bobby Hunter
Bobby Hunter

Feb. 7, 2014

 Illinois State at Loyola | Chicago, Ill.
 Date  Sunday, February 9
 Chicago, Ill.
 3:00 p.m. CT
 Gentile Arena
 Streaming TV  ESPN3
 Radio  WJBC 1230 AM, FM 93.7 (Dick Luedke and Mike Matthews)
 Live Stats  GameTracker
 Game Notes  Illinois State Notes


  • Illinois State has gone 12-6 (.667) over its last 18 games.
  • ISU is aiming for its second regular-season Missouri Valley Conference sweep after beating Loyola (Jan. 11).
  • The Redbirds are the only MVC team with two players shooting 50 percent or better: Bobby Hunter / Reggie Lynch.
  • Redbird freshman center Reggie Lynch continues to lead the Missouri Valley Conference and ranks 40th nationally in blocks per game (2.4). He also ranks second in the league with a 59.3 percent field goal percentage.
  • Junior guard Daishon Knight leads the conference with a perfect 29-for-29 free-throw-shooting mark in league-play. Knight has made 30-consecutive free throws without a miss dating back to ISU's win over DePaul (Dec. 22).
  • Illinois State ranks No. 1 in the Valley in steals per game (7.5) and second in blocks per game (4.4).
  • With 56 blocks this season, Reggie Lynch holds the ISU freshman blocked-shots record. The previous mark was 52.
  • Redbird junior guard Daishon Knight is a three-time MVC Newcomer of the Week (Dec. 2, Dec. 9, Dec. 23).
  • ISU sophomore guard Nick Zeisloft is a three-time MVC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Week (Dec. 4,Dec. 27,Jan. 15).
  • Illinois State's Red Alert is one of 16 finalists nationwide for the Naismith Student Section of the Year Award contest.
  • 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, five Valley regular-season championships and four Valley Tournament championships.

  • Loyola University is located in Chicago, Ill., and has an enrollment of 16,040. The Ramblers compete at the NCAA Division I level and are first-year members of the Missouri Valley Conference.
  • The Ramblers return two starters from a team which finished 15-16 last season and tied for seventh in the Horizon League (5-11).
  • The Redbirds beat Loyola in the first regular-season meeting, 59-50, at Redbird Arena, Jan. 11, 2014.
  • Illinois State leads the all-time series against Loyola, 8-3, with ISU winning the last four meetings and six out of the last eight. ISU holds a 3-2 record against Loyola in Chicago.
  • The Ramblers were picked to finish ninth the Missouri Valley Conference according to the preseason poll.
  • Loyola head coach Porter Moser served as ISU's head coach for four seasons, from 2003-07. At Illinois State, Moser amassed a 56-71 (.441) record.

    ESPN3 -

    NORMAL, Ill. (Jan. 11, 2014) - A smothering defensive effort from Illinois State (9-7, 2-2 MVC at the time) in the second half held Loyola (6-10, 1-3 MVC at the time) to just 23 points over the final 20 minutes of action, as the Redbirds flew away with a 59-50 victory over the Ramblers on the 25th anniversary of the first game played on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. With the win, the Redbirds extended their winning streak to six games in a row at Redbird Arena at the time. The win also marked the eighth win in the last 11 games overall for Illinois State at the time. Nick Zeisloft led a quartet of Redbirds in double figures with 12 points, all of which were scored in the first half on four made shots from behind the arc. Reggie Lynch added 11 points, to go along with five rebounds and three blocks.

    As Illinois State faces Loyola for the second time this season Sunday afternoon, the Redbirds can sweep the regular-season series versus LU after beating the Ramblers in the first meeting, 59-50, Jan. 11. With two wins over Drake, the Redbirds have already swept one Valley team this year. Last season, ISU managed one series sweep by knocking off Southern Illinois both at home and on the road.

    The Redbirds have fared well against foes hailing from in and around Chicago this season. ISU enters Sunday afternoon's game at Loyola with a perfect 4-0 record against Chicago-area programs, including a win at Northwestern (Nov. 17), followed by home victories over Chicago State (Dec. 4), DePaul (Dec. 22) and Loyola (Jan. 11).

    Illinois State is now 5-1 versus NCAA Division I teams in the state of Illinois this season, with the Redbirds' lone loss occurring at Bradley (Jan. 29). The Redbirds have three more chances to earn in-state victories during the regular-season, starting with Sunday's MVC matchup at Loyola.

    The future of the Missouri Valley Conference will be on display, as Sunday's ISU at Loyola game will feature some of the MVC's top freshmen. Loyola's starting lineup includes four-time Valley Newcomer of the Week and leading freshman scorer, Milton Doyle, while the Redbirds often start two freshmen in guard Paris Lee and center Reggie Lynch. Lee leads all MVC freshmen and ranks 10th in the Valley with 1.5 steals per game, while Lynch tops the league in blocks (2.4) and ranks second in field goal percentage (59.3). Fellow-freshman Tony Wills additionally has come off the bench to score in eight-straight contests.

    ISU redshirt junior guard Bobby Hunter has significantly increased his productivity in the Redbirds' 11 Missouri Valley Conference games this season. Hunter has not only netted double-figures in 10-out-of-11 Valley games, but he also leads ISU in Valley-play with 12.1 points (team-high) on 51.2 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists (team-high) and 1.6 steals (team-high) per game. During non-conference play, Hunter averaged 9.5 points on 48.4 percent shooting, 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.5 steals.

    Sophomore forward Jamaal Samuel has embraced his increased roll following the injury of fellow-forward John Jones at Indiana State (Jan. 25). In his 14 games prior to Jones' injury, Samuel averaged 1.6 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 7.4 minutes per game. However, in his three games since the Indiana State contest, Samuel has averaged 6.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 19.3 minutes per game, including his first-career start against Drake (Feb. 1). The New Orleans, La., native was particularly impressive in ISU's win over Northern Iowa Wednesday night, earning a career-best 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting.

    After earning the single-season blocks record for a freshman with a pair of stuffs against Drake (Feb. 1), center Reggie Lynch blocked three more shots versus Northern Iowa Wednesday to extend the record to 56. The previous mark was 52. Lynch is now in fourth place on the single-season blocks list and is already No. 17 on the career-blocks list - one behind current Redbird head coach Dan Muller, who totaled 57. Lynch leads the league and ranks 40th nationally in blocks per game (2.4).

    With 34 steals this season (1.5 per game) freshman guard Paris Lee is in search of his own freshman record. The single-season freshman steals mark is 57, set by Ron Jones in 1976-77.

    Even though Northern Iowa's field goal percentage was slightly higher than Illinois State's (45.8 percent compared to 43.6 percent), the Redbirds capitalized on defensive stops and rebounding to hold off Northern Iowa, 76-65, Wednesday night on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. The Redbirds forced UNI to commit 16 turnovers (compared to 11) and ISU scored 30 points off of turnovers (compared to 19 by UNI). Illinois State also outrebounded the Panthers, 33-28, and amassed 12 second-chance points compared to two.

    After shooting a combined 56-for-166 (33.7 percent) from the field and 9-for-66 (13.6 percent) from beyond the arc during a three-game stretch from Jan. 22 until Jan. 29, Illinois State bounced back with its best offensive-performance of the season in its Feb. 1 win over Drake. The Redbirds earned season-highs in field goal and three-point shooting, at 51.1 percent (24-for-47) and 52.2 percent (12-for-23), respectively. ISU's 12 three-pointers were two more than the Redbirds had made in their last three games combined.

    Illinois State achieved its top offensive-effort of the season in the Feb. 1 win over Drake thanks in-part to career-nights by redshirt junior guard Bobby Hunter and redshirt sophomore guard Nick Zeisloft. Hunter led all scorers with a career-best 19 points (4-for-6 from the field, 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and 8-for-9 from the free throw line), while Zeisloft contributed a career-best 15 points - all from beyond the arc - on a career-high 5-for-7 three-point shooting.

    ISU's zone defense has continued to effectively challenge the opposition since the Redbirds began utilizing it in their fifth game of the season. Illinois State currently ranks No. 2 in field goal percentage defense (42.3 percent) among Missouri Valley Conference teams. With ISU's four-guard lineup - including redshirt junior Bobby Hunter and freshman guard Paris Lee who rank eighth and tenth in the league, respectively, with 1.6 and 1.5 steals per game - the Redbirds lead the Valley in steals (7.5) per game. With freshman center and league-leading shot blocker Reggie Lynch in the middle of the zone, ISU ranks second in league-blocks (4.4), and ISU is No. 2 in defensive rebounds, with 25.8 per game.

    Illinois State is 10-2 when holding the opposition to 69 points or less this season. The Redbirds are also 4-1 when scoring between 60-69 points. Illinois State has reached 70 points in four of its last eight wins, and the Redbirds have held their opposition to 65 points or less during seven of the last eight victories. Based on these results, ISU has a good chance of winning when finishing games in the 60-point range.

    Despite Illinois State featuring the least-experienced team in the nation, this year's Redbird squad (which features eight newcomers to NCAA Division I basketball on the current active roster) is ahead of where last year's more-experienced Redbird team was at this point in league-play. Last year's ISU team was 4-7 in the Missouri Valley Conference (13-10 overall), while the 2013-14 Redbirds are currently 6-5 and 13-10.

    With Illinois State's 69-64 win over BIG EAST foe and in-state rival DePaul Dec. 22, the Redbirds wrapped up their non-conference schedule with victories against a Big Ten team (at Northwestern, Nov. 17), a Top-25 program (vs. No. 25 Dayton, Dec. 7) and a BIG EAST opponent (vs. DePaul), all in the same season, for the first time in program history. It also marked just the third time that ISU has earned wins over a Big Ten and BIG EAST foe in the same season.

    Even though the Redbirds still have seven regular-season games remaining, news pertaining to the 2014-15 season was announced Feb. 3. Illinois State will join Clemson, Gardner-Webb, LSU, Nevada, Old Dominion, Seton Hall and Weber State in the 2014 Ezybonds Global Payments U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, held on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Nov. 21-24, 2014.

    The Illinois State men's basketball team's Missouri Valley Conference regular-season finale at Southern Illinois - Saturday, March 1 at 3 p.m. - will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago as part of ISU's institutional TV package, marking ISU's sixth institutional men's basketball broadcast of the season. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.