Freshman Tanner Milson is the reigning CAA Rookie of the Week, which is his second-straight honor.
ENFORCING THE LIMIT
In five of Illinois State's last six games, including each of the last three contests, the Redbirds have limited their opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field. In the five games, the Redbird defense is holding their foes to a combined 37.1 percent shooting clip.
Through 10 games, Illinois State's Austin Hill leads the Redbirds in both scoring (11.7 ppg.) and assists (22). If he could maintain this statistical control, Hill would become only the third Redbird in the NCAA Division I era to lead the team in both scoring and assists. Hill would join Vince Greene (2002-03) and Tarise Bryson (1999-2000), both 1,000-point scorers at Illinois State.
THE POWER OF THREES
The most obvious explanation for Illinois State's inconsistent start this season can be found with the team's shooting percentage. On the season, ISU is shooting 28.3 percent from three-point range, which would rank as the lowest single-season effort in school history, undercutting the 30.4 percentage during the 1990-91 campaign.
THE RIGHT COMBO
Already this season, the Redbirds have had the same number of guys earn a spot in the starting lineup, as the team did last season - eight. The Redbirds have had four different combinations for the starting five, and the same lineup in the last two games. That lineup of Anthony Cousin, Alex Rubin, Jackie Carmichael, Austin Hill and Tony Lewis has proven to be one of the best during the season, posting a +13.61 plus/minus rating over 40 minutes on the season.
GETTING A SECOND CHANCE
To date, Illinois State leads the Missouri Valley Conference with 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, thanks in large part to the league's individual leader Tony Lewis and his 3.3 offensive caroms per contest. However, the Redbirds haven't taken full advantage of their second chances. ISU is only averaging 9.4 second-chance points per game, less than one point per offensive rebound on the season.
Illinois State freshman Jon Ekey has put a scare into opposing offenses this season. Despite being a first-year player, Ekey leads the Redbirds in both blocked shots (15) and steals (12), already accounting for 27 combined defensive touches.
After the first two games of the season, Illinois State appeared to have a strong perimeter team with a combined 14-for-33 (.424) effort on threes. However, in the last eight games, shooting from beyond the arch has dried up for the Redbirds. Illinois State has shot 33-for-133 (.248) and only Austin Hill (.357) is shooting over 35 percent during that span.
FREEDOM OF CHOICES
In 10 games this season, Illinois State has had nine individual players already post a double-digit scoring game. The Redbirds have had 25 double-figure performances to date on the campaign achieved by: Jackie Carmichael (6), Austin Hill (6), Tony Lewis (3), Blake Mishler (3), Trey Blue (2), Justin Clark (2), Anthony Cousin (1), Alex Rubin (1) and John Wilkins (1).
Illinois State's Jon Ekey (15) and Jackie Carmichael (14) are two of the three players in the Missouri Valley Conference to have 14 or more blocked shots this season, joining Indiana State's Myles Walker (15). With two of the top-three shot blockers in the conference, it is no surprise that the Redbirds rank No. 2 in the conference with 4.4 blocks per game. At this pace, the Redbirds would have the third-best blocks per game average in school history.
Is French-born Illinois State sophomore John Wilkins starting to find his three-point shooting groove? Yes! In his first two games, Wilkins combined to score a total of six points, but in his last two contests Wilkins is averaging 10.0 points per game, while shooting a combined 5-for-11 (.455) from three.
Senior Austin Hill has started this season where the 2009-10 campaign left off. In the final four games last season, Hill averaged 8.8 points per game, while shooting 61.9 percent from the floor. This season, Hill is first on the team with 11.7 points per game, while shooting 47.8 percent from the field. Over the last three games, Hill is averaging a team-best 13 points per contest.
THE BENCH MARK
The Illinois State bench has definitely left its mark during the 2010-11 season, in fact, it has accounted for 43.1 percent of the Redbirds' scoring. In each of Illinois State's games this season, the Redbird starters have been outscored by the opponent counterparts. However, in nine of the 10 games, the ISU bench carried the weight and has combined to score 280 points this season, or 28.0 points per contest.
THAT 70's SHOW
ISU's success during the Tim Jankovich-era has been pretty much based on 70 points. When the Redbirds score 70 or more points, Illinois State owns a 44-9 record (.830) in his four seasons. When ISU opponent's score less than 70 points, the Redbirds are 69-15 (.821) during that span.
Head coach Tim Jankovich owns a 38-12 record (.760) against non-conference opponents during his time with the Redbirds.
THESE 'BIRDS ARE YOUNG
As the most inexperienced team in the Valley entering the season, the Illinois State roster had combined to play a total of 3,257 minutes for the Redbirds. Opening the season, the Redbirds had combined to play 10 Division I seasons, which ranked ISU No. 23, as one of the most inexperienced teams in the nation.
ON A MISH-ION
Blake Mishler has opened his final season with 56 points scored, including three double-digit scoring games. This is a tremendous start considering he scored 15 points in 21 games last season. Basing his production over 40 minutes, Mishler would rank fourth on the team in scoring with 17.6 points per game.
Sophomore Jackie Carmichael is putting the "O" in offense for the Redbirds this season. He is second on the team with 10.5 points per game and has already collected six double-digit scoring games this season, after posting eight last season.
Senior Tony Lewis has taken the lead rebounding role for the Redbirds this season. He is averaging 8.2 boards per game, while Lewis' offensive rebounding total (33) also accounts for 27.2 percent of ISU's entire offensive rebounds. Lewis has had six games this season with eight or more rebounds, with all six occurring over the last eight games.
CARMICHAEL FOR THE BLOCK
Sophomore Jackie Carmichael ended his first season with the Redbirds as the most-prolific freshman shot blocker in Illinois State history. Carmichael swatted away 46 shots during the 2009-10 season, crushing the old mark of 36 set by Mike VandeGarde during his freshman campaign in 1990-91. With 60 career blocks, Carmichael ranks 10th for career blocked shots at ISU and he needs 10 more to surpass Dinma Odiakosa (69) for ninth place.
ERR, EKEY FOR THE BLOCK?
Jackie Carmichael's ISU freshman shot block record might be short lived, as freshman Jon Ekey has collected 15 blocked shots this season. The Valley leader in blocks per game (1.5) is on pace to finish with approximately 47 blocked shots on the season, which would not only be the freshman record, but would mark the fourth best single season blocked shot total in Illinois State history.
FEAR THE BEARD
Sophomore Jackie Carmichael, a member of the 2010 Valley All-Freshman Team, will look to become only the second Redbird to earn first team all-league honors after being named to the all-freshman team. With Carmichael, the Redbirds have had seven players named to the Valley All-Freshman Team and only Osiris Eldridge went on to earn first-team all-league accolades (three times).
Entering his fourth year at the helm, Tim Jankovich has turned Illinois State from a probable Valley Tournament play-in team into a part of the championship conversation. Jankovich and his staff have returned ISU basketball to its glory with a record of 78-34 (.696), including a 35-19 (.648) mark in Valley regular-season games. In the three years prior to this staff's arrival, ISU was 41-48 (.461) overall and 18-36 (.333) in league play.
343-STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TREY
Illinois State enters the game at UNC Wilmington with at least one made three in 343-straight games. The last time ISU didn't sink a trey was an 82-43 loss at Creighton, Dec. 12, 1999.
A RETURN TO POSTSEASON
Illinois State, which became an NCAA Division I program prior to the 1970-71 season, enjoyed postseason play for the 17th time last season. The Redbirds have qualified for the NCAA Tournament six times (1983, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1997 and 1998) and the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) 11 times (1977, 1978, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2008, 2009 and 2010).
TWENTY, TWENTY, TWENTY, THEY'VE DONE IT AGAIN
With the BracketBusters win over Morehead State last season, ISU posted its third-straight 20-win campaign, which hadn't happened in Normal, Ill., since the 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons. It also became the 16th 20-win season for the Redbirds since the program became an NCAA Division I program prior to the 1970-71 season.