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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 20, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Redbird Arena (10,200) -- Normal, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Manhattan 0-1, ISU 0-1. Away Record: Manhattan 2-0, ISU 1-1. Neutral Record: Manhattan 0-0, ISU 0-0. Conference Record: Manhattan 0-0, ISU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Manhattan Jaspers and the Illinois State Redbirds will meet at Redbirds Arena on Wednesday night for a non-conference clash.
Manhattan's season started off with a bang, as it downed La Salle on the road in a double-overtime thriller, 99-90. After claiming another nail-biter at Columbia (71-70), the Jaspers dropped their first game of the season in their home-opener versus George Washington last Saturday, 80-74.
At 1-2, Illinois State's early slate of games has been the opposite of Manhattan's. The Redbirds lost each of their first two games, at nationally- ranked VCU (96-58) and at home to Drexel (78-70), before claiming their first win of the season on Sunday at Northwestern, 68-64.
This bout marks the first meeting between the Jaspers and Redbirds on the hardwood.
Manhattan was in control of its last contest early, as it led George Washington by nine points at the break, but the Colonials used a 16-4 run midway through the second half to take the game over. George Beamon continued his fantastic start in the setback by logging 34 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the floor and 13-of-16 at the free-throw line. He also grabbed nine rebounds, but no other player scored in double figures.
Although it's an incredibly small sample size, Beamon is the nation's seventh- leading scorer so far, as he is pouring in 28.7 points per game with strong percentages from the field (.477), beyond the arc (.429) and the foul line (.897). Shane Richards (13.3 ppg) and Michael Alvarado (11.0 ppg) also score in double figures for the Jaspers, who net 81.3 points per game on 44.4 percent field goal efficiency. Beamon (7.7 rpg) paces the squad on the glass, while Alvarado hands out 5.0 assists per tilt.
After an outstanding first half at Northwestern on Sunday, in which it shot 51.6 percent from the field, Illinois State led by 18 points, and even though it saw its advantage dwindle to just two in the final minute, it drained 4- of-4 at the charity stripe in the waning seconds to seal the deal. The winning effort was paced by Zach Lofton and Daishon Knight, who both contributed 15 points. John Jones added 11 points, Reggie Lynch came off the bench to net 11 points and Michael Middlebrooks was a force in the paint with 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Despite an impressive offensive showing the last time out, the Redbirds are off to a sluggish start as they score just 65.3 points per game, 14 fewer than their opponents. Lofton is the only player averaging in double figures at 12.7 points per game, but his dreadful field goal percentage (.268) has hurt the team. Middlebrooks (7.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg) is one of the few players on the roster with an impressive percentage from the floor (.714).
Illinois State has tested itself with a very difficult early-season schedule and will surely be thrilled to return home to play a team it actually matches up well against. Beamon may be the best player on the floor, but figure for the Redbirds' balanced attack to lead them to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois State 73, Manhattan 70
11/20 10:36:39 ET
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