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Illinois State (7-5) at Missouri State (10-2)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 2, 8:05 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: JQH Arena (11,000) -- Springfield, Missouri. Television: None. Home Record: Illinois State 4-2, Missouri State 7-0. Away Record: Illinois State 2-2, Missouri State 2-1. Neutral Record: Illinois State 1-1, Missouri State 1-1. Conference Record: Illinois State 0-0, Missouri State 0-0. Series Record: Illinois State leads, 35-26.

GAME NOTES: Both the Illinois State Redbirds and Missouri State Bears take two-game winning streaks into their Missouri Valley Conference matchup Thursday at JQH Arena. It's the conference opener for both programs this season.

Illinois State has won six of its last seven contests, including a 69-64 victory over DePaul in the team's last matchup on Dec. 22, prior to the holiday break.

Missouri State has won four of its last five and brings a 10-2 overall record into the matchup. The Bears narrowly defeated Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 29, 81-78, in the team's last contest.

The Redbirds hold a 35-26 all-time series lead against the Bears, and won the last matchup, 86-50, between the two teams.

Illinois State had to battle back from a seven-point deficit early in the second half to defeat DePaul, 69-64. Daishon Knight led the way for the Redbirds, scoring 16 points and grabbing six rebounds in the win. Zach Lofton scored 14 - nine in the second half - including 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. He also tied a career-high with five assists. Nick Zeisloft was the third Illinois State player in double figures, adding 11. Illinois State held a slim 37-34 lead at halftime on a last-second shot by Zeisloft.

Knight and Lofton lead the Redbirds in scoring, averaging 14.7 ppg and 11.5 ppg, respectively. Knight pulls down an average of 4.4 rpg, and also leads the team in assists this season with 30. Lofton is shooting a dismal 28.5 percent from the floor, but is getting it done at the charity stripe with an 83.9 percent clip. Reggie Lynch, who comes off the bench, leads the team with 25 blocks this season. As a team, the Redbirds are shooting 40.1 percent from the floor.

Dorrian Williams hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Missouri State over Southeast Missouri State Sunday. Marcus Marshall scored 19 points to lead the Bears, while Jarmar Gulley added 15. Emmanuel Addo scored 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the win. The Bears led 61-41 with 13:21 remaining in the contest, but let the lead slip away. Missouri State overcame a season-high 16 turnovers, 11 that came in the second half.

Marshall leads the team in scoring with 14 ppg, but has only played in eight games. Still, he and Gulley are the only two Bears with over 100 points scored on the season. Gulley is second on the team with 12.8 ppg. Gulley grabs 5.3 rpg, and leads the team with 23 steals. Freshman Tyler McCullough leads the team with 15 blocks.

Both teams are hot entering this contest, but with the home crowd and momentum from their last second win, the Bears have the upper hand in this one.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri State 69, Illinois State 65

01/02 10:37:59 ET