|ISU harnesses first Valley victory|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Sports Editor|
|Monday, 21 January 2013 14:42|
Sunday’s game against Missouri Valley Conference rival Southern Illinois not only marked the first MVC win of the season for the Illinois State men’s basketball team, but it also marked the first time the ’Birds have won at SIU Arena since 2009.
The Redbirds managed the road-win in a 70-56 decision, and now hold a 10-9 overall season record, including a 1-6 record in the MVC.
“It’s important for our guys to get some success, hopefully get some confidence,” ISU head coach Dan Muller told WJBC Radio. “I’m happy, they need to be happy. We haven’t won a game in a month, which hopefully never ever happens again in my entire life. This is much better.”
“We’ve dug ourselves a pretty big hole, but all we can do is just play what we have in front of us, practice, continue to improve [and] play one game at a time.”
En route to the victory, Tyler Brown led the ’Birds in their offensive effort, finishing with 22 points, 18 of which came in the first half and included five three-pointers.
“I’ve been working hard outside of practices and in practice working on my shot,” Brown said. “As a shooter, that’s what you do it for. Outside of the games, you work hard so you can make those types of shots in the games.”
“Tyler is extremely talented, we all know that,” Muller said. “He’s one of the best, most talented players in this league. He’s going to be great the rest of the year — I truly believe that.”
Jackie Carmichael recorded his 29th career double-double and ninth of the season after he finished the game with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
“Jackie is playing so well, his minutes are higher than they were
earlier, but he’s playing so well it’s hard to take him out,” Muller
Bryant Allen and John Wilkins also contributed with nine points apiece.
The Redbirds’ defense proved to be a barrier for the Salukis, as ISU
limited SIU to its largest halftime deficit in SIU Arena history. The
’Birds shot 51.4 percent from the field in the first period and limited
Southern to 33.3 percent.
ISU led for most of the first half, which included a 16-4 run to
pull ahead to 29-15 with 7:59 left to play in the period. The ’Birds
then sealed the deal in their first-half efforts with an 18-6 run to
extend their lead to 47-21 heading into the locker room.
Southern threatened in the second half with a 23-8 run to open the
period and pull within 11 points, 55-44, with 10:43 left in the game.
But a shot-beyond-the-arc from Kaza Keane clipped the Saluki scoring
streak and initiated a 12-6 run for the Redbirds, allowing ISU to build
up a 17-point cushion and hold on for the win.
“It is hard to play with a 25-point lead at half. It’s hard to
sustain that intensity — it’s just human nature to relax,” Muller said.
“Unfortunately, we gave in to that tonight, but it’s certainly something
to build on.”
“Their comeback in the second half just kind of shows us what type
of team we are right now at this moment. It shows we have a lot of work
to do,” Brown said. “Even though it is just one game … it’s definitely a
momentum builder, and we’re going to just build off of it and going to
keep rising higher.”
ISU will continue Valley play at home at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday when they face Indiana State on the hardwood at Redbird Arena.