Illinois State (16-14) vs. Missouri State (19-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 7, 3:35 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scottrade Center (22,000) -- St. Louis, Missouri. Television: MVC TV, FSN-MW. Home Record: ISU 12-3, MSU 14-2. Away Record: ISU 3-10, MSU 4-8. Neutral Record: ISU 1-1, MSU 1-1. Conference Record: ISU 9-9, MSU 9-9. Series Record: Illinois State leads, 36-27.
GAME NOTES: The fifth-seeded Illinois State Redbirds and the fourth-seeded Missouri State Bears will clash in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at the Scottrade Center on Friday afternoon.
Awaiting the winner in Saturday's semifinals will be either top-seeded Wichita State or ninth-seeded Evansville.
Illinois State have enjoyed a solid season at 16-14 overall, including a 9-9 mark in conference action, although it is trending in the wrong direction coming into this event with losses in two of its last three. The Redbirds closed out the regular season with a heartbreaking 66-65 defeat at Southern Illinois last Saturday.
Although Missouri State finished with an identical league record as Illinois State (9-9), it had a more productive season as a whole, going 19-11 overall. The Bears had been winners of two straight prior to their unenviable task of closing the regular season at Wichita State on Saturday, coming away with a 68-45 setback.
The teams split the two meetings this season, with each side winning at home. Illinois State holds a 36-27 advantage in an all-time series that dates back to 1967.
While the Redbirds held a two-point lead in the final minute of their regular- season finale, they fell victim to SIU's game-winning 3-pointer with just 10 seconds to play. In a game that consisted of 11 ties and 11 lead changes, the Redbirds shot a solid 45.7 percent from the field but lost possessions by getting dominated in the rebounding battle, 43-21. Daishon Knight led the way with 15 points, while Bobby Hunter (13 points), Zach Lofton (11) and Reggie Lynch (10) also registered in double figures.
On the season, Illinois State shoots a mere 41.3 percent from the field (including 32 percent from beyond the arc) and scores nearly the same amount of points per game (69.6) as it allows on the other end of the court (69.8). Knight scores 13.4 ppg and makes up for a poor field goal percentage (.377) with a strong showing at the foul line (.806). Lofton (10.8 ppg) and Hunter (10.7 ppg) are also consistent scorers, although Lofton owns a dreadful .330 field-goal percentage.
The Bears were no match for the unbeaten Shockers their last time out, as they were outshot from the floor, 51.2 percent to 31.4 percent, lost the rebounding battle, 43-25, and made just 9-of-16 from the free-throw line as they suffered the 23-point blowout loss. Jarmar Gulley was the only player to finish in double figures for the squad with 15 points, although he did so on just 5- of-14 from the field.
Much like Illinois State, Missouri State has played modestly on both ends of the court this season, as its offensive production (.439 FG percentage, 70.1 ppg) is very similar to what it allows on defense (.448, 69.0 ppg). Its aided by draining 7.0 3-pointers per game at a 36.4 percent clip as well as a +1.2 turnover margin. Gulley brings 14.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 1.6 spg to the table, all while shooting an impressive 46.8 percent from the field. Although no one else scores in double figures, 10 others net 3.1 ppg or more for the deep rotation.
These teams are very well matched, proving so by splitting the season series. However, figure for the Bears to bounce back from their loss to Wichita State and advance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri State 68, Illinois State 67
03/07 10:35:33 ET