Texas A&M is under the direction of third-year head coach Billy Kennedy...the Aggies have an 18-15 overall record and a 17-3 mark at home in Reed Arena...finished ninth in the Southeastern Conference...rank third in the SEC in both scoring defense (63.4 points per game allowed) and field goal percentage defense (.402)...defend the perimeter well, leading the league and ranking among the national leaders with a .289 three-point field goal percentage defense.
WHERE TO WATCH: ILLINOIS STATE VS. TEXAS A&M
CBS Sports Network: Comcast: 531, 963; DirecTV: 221; Dish: 158; AT&T U-Verse: 643;
LAST TIME OUT: REDBIRDS DEFEAT MOREHEAD STATE IN FIRST ROUND OF CBI
NORMAL, Ill. (March 19, 2014) - Illinois State guard Daishon Knight led four players in double-figures with 18 points, as the Redbirds pulled away in the second half for a 77-67 defeat of Morehead State in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. Bobby Hunter finished the game with 16 points, including an 8-for-10 effort from the free throw line, and Nick Zeisloft chipped in 13 points thanks to a 3-for-6 effort from behind the arc. The Eagles maintained a small single-digit lead over the first six-plus minutes of the game, before Knight drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Redbirds their first lead of the game at 8-7 with 13:13 left in the first half. The two teams then traded baskets, but a three-pointer by Zeisloft extended the lead to six points at 21-15 with just over six minutes left in the first half. Illinois State did not trail for the remainder of the game.
REDBIRD POSTSEASON SUCCESS
ILLINOIS STATE IS:
making its first College Basketball Invitational appearance.
13-18 in postseason play.
1-0 in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
3-6 in the NCAA Tournament.
9-12 in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
5-2 in postseason games at home in Normal, Ill.
3-2 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), 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).
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 15-9 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.
AND THEN THERE WAS ONE...
Illinois State is the only Missouri Valley Conference team still playing in the postseason. After Wichita State won its second-round matchup against Cal Poly, the Shockers fell to Kentucky in the third round. Meanwhile, the MVC's other two postseason teams - Indiana State and Missouri State - both lost their first-round matchups in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and the College Insider Tournament (CIT), respectively. 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
ISU VS. SEC
Monday night's CBI quarterfinal matchup between Illinois State and Texas A&M marks ISU's seventh meeting with a Southeastern Conference (SEC) opponent in program history. The Redbirds have had success against the SEC, earning a 5-1 mark over SEC opponents. ISU has earned two additional victories versus foes that later joined the SEC (at Arkansas, W 81-67, Dec. 6, 1972, and versus Texas A&M, W 74-66 (OT), Dec. 21, 1984). The Redbirds also hold a 3-0 mark versus SEC opponents in postseason play, with two NCAA Tournament wins and one NIT victory.
REDBIRD ARENA FIRST
Monday's CBI quarterfinal contest against the Aggies marks the first-ever appearance by an SEC team at Redbird Arena, and only the second-ever in Normal, Ill. Ole Miss visited ISU Dec. 23, 1978, and the Redbirds won, 76-72. ISU has already knocked off a Top-25 team and a BIG EAST foe at Redbird Arena this season.
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.
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 tied for fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference, above the seventh-place prediction made in the 2013-14 MVC 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.
DEFENDING DOUG COLLINS COURT
Illinois State enters Monday night's home game against Texas A&M with a 13-3 mark on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. The Redbirds are trying to earn 14 or more wins at home for just the fourth time in Redbird Arena's 25-year history after winning 14 in 2011-12, 15 in 2009-10 and 16 in 2007-08. ISU has won 13 out of its last 14 games at home, including eight out of nine Missouri Valley Conference contests.
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. Sophomore guard Nick Zeisloft was also named to Valley Scholar-Athlete First Team.
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 in sole-possession of second place on the ISU single-season blocks list and is ninth on the career-blocks list, with 85 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 seven away from matching the MVC freshman blocks record of 92, set by Creighton's Benoit Benjamin in 1982-83. Lynch leads the league and ranks No. 29 nationally with 2.7 blocks per game.
FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE: Lynch is currently shooting 100-168 (59.5 percent) from the field, which puts him on pace for a few more spots in the ISU record book. 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. 8 on the single-season field goal percentage list. Lynch ranks second in the MVC.
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 50 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.
After suffering a broken foot in Illinois State's loss at Indiana State (Jan. 25), John Jones returned to the court for ISU's first-round CBI win over Morehead State (March 19). Jones made an immediate impact, scoring six points - including two dunks - plus four rebounds, one block and one assist.
UNDER 70 SUCCESS
The Redbirds - who rank second in league-field goal percentage defense (42.3 percent) - have statistically proven that holding teams under 70 points is a recipe for success. ISU is 14-4 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 11-6 when ISU forces more turnovers. Illinois State is 8-3 when the Redbirds outrebound their opponent.
ISU's primary zone defense has continued to effectively challenge the opposition since the Redbirds began utilizing zone 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 both rank in the top-10 among Valley players with averages of 1.6 and 1.4, respectively - the Redbirds lead the Valley and rank No. 25 nationally in steals (7.8) per game. With freshman center and league-leading shot blocker Reggie Lynch in the middle of the zone, ISU ranks second in league-blocks (4.6).
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