Siena exceeded expectations and finished fifth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference under first-year head coach Jimmy Patsos...the Saints won their final four regular-season games to earn a bye into the MAAC quarterfinals...feature a young, balanced roster without a single scholarship senior and entered the CBI having already won eight more games than last season...making its 12th postseason appearance and first since 2010 when it made its third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
WHERE TO WATCH: ILLINOIS STATE AT SIENA
LAST TIME OUT: REDBIRDS DEFEAT TEXAS A&M, 62-55; ADVANCE TO SEMIFINAL
NORMAL, Ill. (March 24, 2014) - The Illinois State men's basketball team's 62-55 win Monday night over Texas A&M in the quarterfinal round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) marks just the third time in program history that the Redbirds have won two postseason contests in the same season, with the last time coming during the 1995-96 season. ISU was led by Daishon Knight, who connected on 50 percent of his shot attempts from the field, scoring 17 points. Knight also pulled down a career-high nine rebounds, all coming at the defensive end in 36 minutes. Illinois State shot 44 percent from the field, and Texas A&M connected on 34 percent of its shot attempts. The Aggies were led by Antwan Space, who netted 15 points.
REDBIRD POSTSEASON SUCCESS
ILLINOIS STATE IS:
playing in its first-ever College Basketball Invitational.
14-18 in postseason play.
2-0 in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
3-6 in the NCAA Tournament.
9-12 in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
5-9 in postseason games on the road.
3-7 in postseason games on a neutral court.
6-2 in postseason games at home in Normal, Ill.
4-2 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.
advanced to the semifinals of a postseason tournament for the first time in program history.
qualified for the postseason for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.
matched the program record for most postseason wins, with two victories in the CBI.
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
ISU is the lone Missouri Valley Conference participant in the CBI this season. The Valley has an all-time record of 16-9 in the CBI, with Bradley reaching the title game in the inaugural year of the tournament in 2008, Wichita State making it to the quarterfinals in 2009, and Creighton reaching the title round in 2011.
LAST TEAM STANDING
Illinois State is the only Missouri Valley Conference team still playing in the postseason, and the Redbirds' two CBI victories also mark the most postseason wins by an MVC team this year. 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 representatives - 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.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
A spot in the best-of-three CBI championship series is on the line when the Redbirds face Siena Wednesday night. ISU is aiming to advance to a postseason championship for the first time in program-history. The Redbirds are also trying to set a program-record for postseason victories. The current record is two, established with two NIT wins in 1987 and 1996. In each of those two seasons, Illinois State won its first two games before falling on the road in the NIT quarterfinals.
Just because spring has officially begun doesn't mean the Redbirds are finished playing basketball. In fact, Illinois State's CBI semifinal game at Siena - March 26 - marks the latest date for an ISU men's basketball game in program history. The previous record was set during ISU's second round NIT contest at Dayton, March 24, 2008.
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), a BIG EAST opponent (DePaul) and an SEC program (Texas A&M) in the same season, for the first time in program history.
BACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Illinois State has earned a 5-9 overall record in true post-season road contests, and the Redbirds will try to improve upon that mark when they visit Siena Wednesday night. ISU's last postseason road victory occurred March 12, 2012, with the Redbirds holding off Ole Miss, 96-93 (OT) in Oxford, Miss. This season, ISU has gone 3-10 on the road and 2-2 in non-conference away contests. Illinois State is playing in its first true road game since narrowly falling at Southern Illinois, 65-66, in the regular-season finale March 1.
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.
ISU TURNS BACK TEXAS A&M
Against a much-taller Texas A&M lineup, Illinois State collected more rebounds and blocked more shots than the Aggies en route to a 62-55 victory in the CBI quarterfinals Monday night. Freshman center Reggie Lynch blocked a career-high six shots, tying for second on the CBI single-game blocks list. Also registering career-bests were juniors Daishon Knight (nine rebounds) and John Jones (12 points).
MVC FRESHMAN BLOCKS RECORD WITHIN REACH
After blocking a career-best six shots in ISU's win over Texas A&M Monday night, freshman center Reggie Lynch increased his season total to 91, which is one shy of tying the Missouri Valley Conference freshman blocks record of 92 set by Creighton's Benoit Benjamin in 1982-83. Lynch already broke ISU's freshman mark of 52. He ranks second on the single-season list, behind Jeff Wilkins' 103 blocks in 1976-77. Lynch leads the league and ranks No. 29 nationally with 2.8 blocks per game. He is also No. 8 on the career list.
FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE: Lynch is currently shooting 104-for-177 (58.8 percent) from the field, putting him on pace for another spot 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). Lynch ranks second in the MVC.
After suffering a broken foot in Illinois State's loss at Indiana State (Jan. 25), John Jones returned to the court after missing 11-straight game for ISU's first-round CBI win over Morehead State (March 19) where he scored six points plus four rebounds, one block and one assist. Jones was then instrumental in the Redbirds' victory over Texas A&M Monday, matching a career-best 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting. He netted nine points during a critical stretch from 9:40 to 7:14, to extend ISU's first-half advantage.
UNDER 70 SUCCESS
The Redbirds - who rank second in league-field goal percentage defense (42.0 percent) - have statistically proven that holding teams under 70 points is a recipe for success. ISU is 15-4 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 9-3 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 (42.0 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 1.5 and 1.4, respectively - the Redbirds lead the Valley and rank No. 25 nationally in steals (7.7) per game. With freshman center and league-leading shot blocker Reggie Lynch in the middle of the zone, ISU ranks second in league-blocks (4.7).
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. Sophomore guard Nick Zeisloft was also named to Valley Scholar-Athlete First Team.
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