Morehead State owns a 20-13 overall record and finished 10-6 in the Ohio Valley Conference, advancing to the OVC semifinals...has won 13 OVC championships, including nine regular-season crowns (last in 2003) and four tournament titles (last in 2011)....recorded 20 wins for the sixth time in school history, including four times in the past six years....improved by five victories in 2013-14 after finishing 15-18 overall last season...ranks in the top 30 nationally in rebounding margin, free throw attempts, made free throws, offensive rebounds, total rebounds, and steals.
WHERE TO WATCH: ILLINOIS STATE VS. MOREHEAD STATE
RedbirdHD.tv (Live Stream): http://www.goredbirds.com/allaccess/?media=440944
LAST MEETING: ILLINOIS STATE SECURES 78-73 ROAD WIN
MOREHEAD, Ky. (Dec. 7, 2011) - Illinois State sophomore Jon Ekey scored 17 points and Jackie Carmichael chipped in his second double-double performance in as many games, as the Redbirds escaped with a 78-73 win over Morehead State at Johnson Arena. With the victory, ISU improved to 6-3 on the season, while Morehead State fell to 4-6. Carmichael and Ekey led five Redbirds in double-digits with 17 points apiece. Carmichael also added 10 rebounds for his eighth career double-double. Tyler Brown tossed in 13 points for the Redbirds.
Illinois State is:
making its first College Basketball Invitational appearance.
12-18 in postseason play.
0-0 in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
3-6 in the NCAA Tournament.
9-12 in the NIT.
4-2 in postseason games at home in Normal, Ill.
2-2 in postseason games at Redbird Arena.
Illinois State has:
qualified for the postseason for the 19th time in program history.
qualified for the postseason for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.
By accepting an invitation to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) Sunday night, the Illinois State men's basketball team joined the CBI's field of 16 for the first time since the tournament originated in 2008. ISU is now playing in a postseason tournament other than the NCAA or NIT for the first time in program history. Postseason play of any kind is a new experience for this year's Redbird squad. While Nick Zeisloft and John Jones were on the team when ISU appeared in the 2012 NIT, they did not play (Zeisloft was redshirting and Jones was not eligible to play per an NCAA initial eligibility ruling).
WELCOME TO THE CBI
Entering its seventh season, the CBI is comprised of a 16-team field and hosted at on-campus arenas throughout the country. The CBI is a single-elimination tournament, up until the championship, which is decided in a best-of-three series. Teams from nearly every major conference and mid-major conference have participated in the event, and 18 teams have used the CBI to springboard to the NCAA Tournament the following year, while another 10 have gone on to the NIT.
MVC IN THE CBI
Illinois State is the lone Missouri Valley Conference participant in the CBI this season. The Valley has an all-time record of 14-9 in the history of its participation in the CBI. Bradley reached the title game in the inaugural year of the tournament in 2008, Wichita State made it to the quarterfinals in 2009, and Creighton reached the title round in 2011. MVC teams have combined to go 4-2 in opening-round CBI contests, including 0-1 in 2012. The Missouri Valley Conference did not participate in the CBI last year.
ISU AMONG FOUR MVC POSTSEASON TEAMS
The Valley has sent at least three teams to postseason in 19 of the last 21 years, and has sent four or more teams in each of the past 10 seasons.
4: 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2014
5: 2005, 2008 | 6: 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013 | 7: 2009, 2012
SUMMING UP THE REDBIRDS
With only two and a half years of combined-NCAA Division I experience, the Illinois State men's basketball team is this season's least-experienced program in the nation. However, the Redbirds refused to use their inexperience as an excuse, with second-year ISU head coach Dan Muller leading a talented group of transfers, freshmen and two scholarship-returners to a tie for fourth place in the Missouri Valley Conference (9-9). Illinois State also earned notable non-conference victories against a Top-25 program (No. 25 Dayton), a Big Ten team (Northwestern), and a BIG EAST opponent (DePaul), in the same season, for the first time in program history.
'BIRDS BOW OUT IN QUARTERFINAL
Despite trailing by as many as eight points with less than nine minutes remaining, Illinois State manufactured a 10-0 run to briefly gain a two-point lead at the 5:40 mark; however, Missouri State came back to edge the Redbirds, 53-48, eliminating ISU in the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals (March 7). Zach Lofton netted a career-high 25 points while also earning career-highs in field goals (9) and three-point field goals (5). He was the only Redbird to reach double-figures. Reggie Lynch matched a career-rebounding best with eight boards. ISU shot 32.7 percent from the field compared to 31.4 percent by Missouri State. MSU also outrebounded the Redbirds, 45-36, while ISU forced 10 steals contrasted with four by MSU. ISU was held to its fewest points in a half (17) since scoring 19 at Dayton (March 17, 2010).
KNIGHT AND LYNCH EARN ALL-MVC ACCOLADES
Illinois State junior guard Daishon Knight and freshman center Reggie Lynch each garnered two All-Missouri Valley Conference honors in recognition of their efforts during the 2013-14 regular season. Knight was named to the All-MVC Honorable Mention Team and the All-Newcomer Team, while Lynch earned a spot on the All-Newcomer Team and the All-Freshman Team. ISU has not placed a freshman on both the MVC All-Freshman and All-Newcomer Teams since Osiris Eldridge accomplished the feat in 2007. It is also the first time since 2007 that the Redbirds have earned two out of five spots on the All-Newcomer Team. Meanwhile, Knight's MVC Honorable Mention is Illinois State's first since 2008.
Despite Illinois State featuring the least-experienced team in the nation, this year's Redbird squad (which includes eight newcomers to NCAA Division I basketball on the current active roster) has already exceeded expectations by finishing above the seventh-place prediction made in the 2013-14 Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll. With ISU's win over Indiana State (Feb. 26), the Redbirds secured their third-consecutive winning season, which is also the sixth in the last seven years.
Even though Illinois State center Reggie Lynch is a freshman, he is already building a legacy in the Redbird and Missouri Valley Conference record books.
BLOCKS: Lynch is now in sole-possession of second place on the ISU single-season blocks list and is ninth on the career-blocks list, with 82 blocks. Jeff Wilkins holds the single-season record with 103 in 1976-77. Lynch already set the record for most freshman blocks, by surpassing the previous-high of 52 earlier this year, and he is currently pursuing the MVC freshman blocks record of 92, set by Creighton's Benoit Benjamin in 1982-83. Lynch is now in sole possession of second on the MVC freshman blocks list after passing Bradley's Patrick O'Bryant (2004-05) who had 75 blocks. Lynch leads the league and ranks No. 30 nationally with 2.7 blocks per game.
FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE: Lynch is currently shooting 97-159 (61.0 percent) from the field, which puts him on pace for a few more spots in the ISU record book. While Lynch has to make four more field goals to achieve the required 100-minimum, he currently ranks No. 1 in ISU freshman field goal percentage (the current record is 45.7 percent by Billy Lewis in 1974-75) and No. 7 on the single-season field goal percentage list. Lynch ranks second in the MVC behind Evansville's Egidijus Mockevicius (62.7).
Illinois State appears to be peaking at the right time, as four Illinois State players have earned career-scoring highs in five out of the last seven games. Zach Lofton scored a career-best 25 points while also earning career-highs in field goals (9) and three-point field goals (5) in ISU's loss to Missouri State at the MVC Tournament (March 7). Reggie Lynch totaled career-bests in points (16), rebounds (8) and blocks (5) during ISU's win over Indiana State (Feb. 26). Before that, Lofton netted a then-career-best 24 points in ISU's loss at Northern Iowa (Feb. 23), Daishon Knight scored a career-best 26 points on a career-high five three-pointers in ISU's win over Bradley (Feb. 15), and Nick Zeisloft tallied a career-best 18 points in the Redbirds' narrow loss at Evansville (Feb. 12).
STEALING THE SHOW
Illinois State junior guard Bobby Hunter leads the Redbirds and is No. 6 in the league with 1.6 steals per game. Hunter's 49 total steals this season are the most by a Redbird since Lloyd Phillips forced 60 during the 2009-10 season. Tyler Brown led ISU last season with 46 steals.
KNIGHT'S NEWCOMER NODS
For a program-record fourth time, junior guard Daishon Knight was the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week (Feb. 17). Knight - who is the first-ever Redbird to earn MVC Newcomer of the Week four times - passed Boo Richardson's former record of three honors during the 2006-07 season. Knight and Loyola freshman Milton Doyle both finished with four Valley Newcomer of the Week honors in 2013-14.
UNDER 70 SUCCESS
The Redbirds - who rank second in league-field goal percentage defense (42.4 percent) - have statistically proven that holding teams under 70 points is a recipe for success. ISU is 13-4 when holding its opponents to 69 points or less this season. Conversely, ISU is 3-11 when its opponents net 70 or more points. Defense has been key this season, as Illinois State is 7-3 when the Redbirds force 10 or more steals and 10-6 when ISU forces more turnovers. Illinois State is 8-3 when the Redbirds outrebound their opponent.
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