During Illinois State men’s basketball’s 85-59 win over Davenport, junior Antonio Reeves did what many expect for this season from an unexpected spot Thursday.
Coming off the bench, Reeves finished with 34 points over 27 minutes. ISU head coach Dan Muller noted that Reeves did not start as he normally would due to "not keeping a standard of the program." Muller added that it was a minor transgression.
Despite not granting ISU’s star player the start, Muller was impressed with Reeves’s scoring from all three levels.
Despite not getting the start, Reeves said it did not affect his mentality coming into the game.
“I had the same mentality I always have,” Reeves said on his mindset. “Come in and give it all you have. My teammates give me that energy.”
After a slow showing in a closed exhibition against Illinois-Chicago, the Redbirds bounced back for a much cleaner game.
Defensively the Redbirds played well, especially in the second half. After letting the Panthers stick around 36-28 at halftime, ISU locked down defensively.
ISU senior Josiah Strong saw the defense as the biggest difference for the Redbirds in their second exhibition game.
“I would say there was a lot of growth from everyone, especially from the energy standpoint,” Strong said. “Our defense got us going instead of having to rely on offense.”
Muller noted that personal change over the off season has been important in improving the defense from last season.
“I think we have more defenders on this team that are more natural defenders,” Muller said. “We have guys that can defend multiple positions. I am not happy with our rebounding around the rim. We have the chance to be good defensively. Right now we are just solid.”
ISU's defense got the Redbirds going offensively in the second half.
Coming out of halftime, the Redbirds shut down the Panthers to go on an 11-0 run to take their first substantial lead at 43-32. Keeping turnovers down was key for the Redbirds, who did not commit one in the second half for nearly 10 minutes.
The Redbirds finished the game with four players in double-digit scoring. Reeves led the way with 34 points. While Strong added 14, Mark Freeman finished with an 11 point 10 assist double-double and Kendall Lewis finished with 10 points while leading the team with eight rebounds.