Middlebrooks Named Valley Newcomer of the Week
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Nov. 18, 2013
ST. LOUIS - Following back-to-back double-digit rebounding efforts, Illinois State junior forward Michael Middlebrooks is the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week, as announced by the league office Monday.
Playing in just his second and third NCAA Division I basketball games respectively, Middlebrooks led Illinois State in rebounding (13.0 per game), field goal percentage (7-for-9, 77.8 percent) and blocks (1.5 per game) during the Redbirds' non-conference matchups versus Drexel (Nov. 12) and Northwestern (Nov. 17).
The Seattle, Wash., native was instrumental in Illinois State's win at Northwestern, which was ISU's first against a Big Ten team since 2004. Middlebrooks recorded his second-straight double-digit rebounding effort with 11 boards against the Wildcats. He also shot 3-for-4 from the field and scored six points, adding a game-best three blocks plus two steals and one assist. After ISU fell behind early, 8-3, Middlebrooks put an exclamation point on the Redbirds' 12-2 run by pulling down a defensive rebound and slamming down a highlight-reel, two-handed, alley-oop dunk on the other end to lift Illinois State ahead, 15-10.
In the second half, Middlebrooks helped the Redbirds establish their largest lead of the game by blocking a Drew Crawford layup attempt and grabbing the ball out of mid-air. Zach Lofton then sank a three-pointer to give ISU a 19-point advantage with 16:06 remaining. Later, with 11:24 to play and the Wildcats within 11, Middlebrooks secured an offensive rebound followed by a putback jam to extend Illinois State's advantage. Then, with Northwestern again down by 11, Middlebrooks forced a steal, hustled down the court and threw down a one-handed, fast-break dunk on an alley-oop from Daishon Knight.
Against Drexel, Middlebrooks recorded ISU's first double-double performance of the season with 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field and a 2-for-2 effort at the free throw line. He also grabbed a game-best 15 rebounds, including five offensive boards, and collected one steal and one assist in 31 minutes of action. Middlebrooks managed to turn three offensive rebounds into field goals as he crashed the boards and immediately scored on three different occasions.
If ISU's last two games against experienced teams are any indication of the future, then Middlebrooks could be a force to be reckoned with during the upcoming Missouri Valley Conference season. His MVC Player of the Week honor is the first for Illinois State since Tyler Brown earned the award Jan. 23, 2012.
Middlebrooks and the Redbirds return to Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena for a mid-week matchup with Manhattan this Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 7:05 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Redbird Arena ticket office at (309) 438-8000 or by clicking here.
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