A packed Redbird Arena was ignited by ISU men’s basketball team’s 62-55 victory over Texas A&M Monday night, advancing the Redbirds onto the next phase of the College Basketball Invitational.
Daishon Knight led ISU’s scoring campaign with 17 points, followed by fellow Redbird John Jones who scored 12 points in his second game back after a 13-game absence due to a foot injury.
Offensively, Knight also pushed ahead with nine rebounds, followed by Bobby Hunter and Nick Zeisloft with eight a piece.
The Redbirds were the first with numbers on the board, but the Aggies quickly took over the lead, leaving ISU to trail behind them for some of the first half.
Hunter and Paris Lee helped the Redbirds keep up with the Aggies until ISU was able to pull ahead thanks to nine straight points from Jones, giving the Redbirds the 19-16 lead with 7:14 left in the half.
The Aggies retaliated, but a three-pointer by Zeisloft tied the game at 27 heading into the locker room.
“We know we all can handle the ball, we trust one another so if Paris [Lee] or Bobby [Hunter] got the ball or I got the ball … We’re probably going to take care of the ball,” Knight said.
After the 15:53 mark in the second half, Knight scored seven of ISU’s next 11 points, giving ISU a four-point lead with over 10 minutes remaining.
Texas A&M continued to battle, connecting on two jumpers to tie the game, but a 6-0 run by ISU that included a trey from Zeisloft and a Knight jumper put the Redbirds up, 50-44 with just under seven minutes left to play.
The Aggies struggled to prevent ISU from taking advantage of turnovers and Reggie Lynch scored six straight points, giving ISU a seven-point lead, the largest either team had accomplished thus far in the contest.
A&M connected on a layup with just over a minute on the clock, pulling them within three points of the Redbirds, but a foul allowed Knight to sink four straight free throws, securing the 62-55 victory.
“A lot of guys made some great plays, John Jones was terrific in the first half and everybody contributed,” head coach Dan Muller said. “This team is playing hard, they’re fun to coach, they’re enjoying themselves, I knew it would be a struggle offensively at times through the game but we figured it out in the second half and made big plays down the stretch.”
The Redbirds continue on to the next phase of the CBI, but their opponent and venue has yet to be determined.
“It’s kind of neat to be honest,” Muller said of the uncertainty.