Illinois State (9-3) at Indiana State (7-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 30, 1:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hulman Center (10,200) -- Terre Haute, Indiana. Television: Local. Home Record: Illinois St. 6-1, Indiana St. 3-1. Away Record: Illinois St. 2-1, Indiana St. 2-2. Neutral Record: Illinois St. 1-1, Indiana St. 2-1. Conference Record: Illinois St. 0-0, Indiana St. 0-0. Series Record: Illinois State leads, 58-49
GAME NOTES: Missouri Valley Conference action gets underway for a pair of teams on Sunday afternoon, as the Indiana State Sycamores welcome the Illinois State Redbirds to the Hulman Center in Terre Haute.
The Redbirds are riding a four-game win streak at the moment, thanks to an 83-57 victory over the Austin Peay Governors in the most recent outing on Dec. 22. Illinois State is now 6-1 at home as a result, with the lone setback coming against a surprising Wyoming squad (81-67) on Dec. 4.
As for the Sycamores, they took part in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii early last week, culminating with a 57-55 overtime win at the buzzer versus Miami on Christmas day. The victory was the third in the last four games for the program, the one loss during the stretch coming against nationally-ranked San Diego State a week ago, 62-55.
The Redbirds own a 58-49 advantage in the all-time series between these two programs, but in Terre Haute the edge goes to the home team which has won 33 of 50 meetings. In fact, the Sycamores have won five straight in the series at the Hulman Center.
More than anything else, the defense for the Redbirds is what put them over the top against Austin Peay last weekend, forcing the Govs into an unsightly 25 turnovers, which were traded in for 28 points by the hosts. Jackie Carmichael finished with a double-double consisting of 18 points and a game- high 11 rebounds, followed by Tyler Brown who supplemented his 16 points by registering half of his team's 12 steals in the game. John Wilkins chipped in 14 points in only 18 minutes off the bench, while Jon Ekey contributed another 11 points and had three blocks. Shooting an impressive 58.5 percent from the floor over 12 games, Carmichael has proven himself to be a handful for opponents in the paint, from his 18.3 ppg and 8.0 rpg, to also accounting for 26 rejections at the defensive end of the floor himself. Brown (17.3 ppg) has combined with Carmichael to generate a huge chunk of the unit's 81.0 ppg, as Illinois State shoots a strong 50.8 percent from the floor in the early going.
Trailing Miami by as many as seven points late, the Sycamores needed a boost and got it from Jake Odum who knocked down a jumper in the lane with just 0.8 seconds remaining in order to secure the two-point overtime win at the Stan Sheriff Center. Odum finished the outing just 2-of-7 from the floor, finishing with nine points to go along with six rebounds and six assists in the close call. R.J. Mahurin and Manny Arop both tallied 13 points and Khristian Smith overcame a mere 1-of-9 shooting performance off the bench to give the team a lift with 11 rebounds. Indiana State, which shot a feeble 27.0 percent from the floor against the Hurricanes, is converting only 42.0 percent over the course of 11 games now, resulting in 67.6 ppg, and yet the team is still putting up wins consistently. Odum (14.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) leads the group with 52 assists and 15 steals, while Arop (13.4 ppg) has been producing in the paint (6.2 rpg) better than he has when shooting from 3-point range (.298).
Obviously Arop and Odum are talented players who can break open a game on almost any given night, but what the Sycamores can't do is compete with Illinois State in the paint and that is where the Redbirds will make their case for winning on Sunday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois State 71, Indiana State 65
12/30 11:04:08 ET