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Indiana State Preview — 02-10-2018

Saturday, February 10, 2018 1:00 p.m.
Hulman Center, Terre Haute, Ind.

Just three weeks ago, Indiana State was making a bid to be one of the top four teams in the MVC. On Jan. 20, Coach Greg Lansing’s crew demolished Illinois State 84-54 before 5100 fans at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute. The win put the Sycamores at 5-3 in conference, with a road win over the Ramblers and their three losses by a combined nine points.

But in a league with the kind of parity the MVC has this season, the long scoring droughts the Sycamores often suffered began to catch up with them– and fast. Consecutive losses at SIU, at home against Bradley, and at Valparaiso put the Trees in negative territory. A road win against UNI brightened their prospects and brought them back to break even, but a 19-point drubbing at home by an MSU team lugging around a 5-game losing streak nipped that optimism in the bud.

Inconsistency has been the problem all year long for the Trees. You never know whether you’re getting the team that beat Indiana and Loyola on the road, or the team that has lost home games to Ball State and Elon.

Indiana State has a starting lineup of 6’7” center Brandon Murphy, 6’8” forward Devin Thomas, and three high-scoring guards: Jordan Barnes, Brenton Scott, and Quiydar Davis. Barnes is a speedy 5’11” sophomore who can be explosive on offense. Barnes averages 17.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, and has already connected on 92 threes this season, which leads the league by a wide margin. Scott, a 6’1” senior, is nearly as dangerous, averaging 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds. Davis is a 6’5” grad transfer from Louisiana Tech who puts up 10.3 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 54.6% from the field.

Freshman guard Tyreke Key (currently under concussion protocol and may not be available), 6’9” junior center Emondre Rickman, 6’8” sophomore forward Bronson Kessinger, and 6’6” freshman guard Clayton Hughes are the top players from the bench.

The Ramblers are coming off a 72-57 home win over Drake that equaled their best conference win total since 1985. Loyola is 4-2 this year in conference road games, but they’re 1-3 at the Hulman Center since joining the MVC. The Sycamores beat Loyola 61-57 at the Gentile Arena on Jan. 3 this year, led by Brenton Scott with 16 points and Brandon Murphy with 12.

Before the game, Indiana State will be honoring Clarence Walker, a pioneering African-American player from the late 1940s, who was recruited to ISU by Coach John Wooden.

Loyola game notes: http://www.loyolaramblers.com/documents … df?id=5845

Indiana State game notes: http://gosycamores.com/documents/2018/2 … 6Notes.pdf

TV/Streaming video: ESPN3 / http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3273295/ … iana-state

Stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/indstate/mbball/media/

Vegas odds: Pending

Indiana State Preview — 01-03-2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 7:00 p.m.
Gentile Arena, Chicago, Ill.

Indiana State has been one of the most unpredictable teams in the league this season. They started out the season with a shocking, not-even-close win over Indiana University in Bloomington, in which all five starters scored in double figures and all 14 dressed players got some court time. After that enormous win, however, the Trees limped to a 2-7 record in their remaining non-con games against D1 teams. It looked like they were in actuality a weak squad, that is, until MVC conference play started. Since the conference season began, ISU is 1-1, and came a few points in overtime at Illinois State from going 2-0.

Coach Greg Lansing started the season with a three guard, center and forward lineup, and mixed and matched his starters trying to find the right combination. When the Trees shoot better than 40% on two-pointers, they’re competitive. When they shoot below 40% on two-point shots– no matter how hot they are from the perimeter– they’re blown out. Entering conference play, he counterintuitively switched to a four guard, one center starting crew, and the results have been very positive.

The ISU starters are now Jordan Barnes, Brenton Scott, Clayton Hughes, and Quiydar Davis at guard, and Brandon Murphy at center. Barnes is a speedy 5’11” sophomore who can be very explosive offensively. Averaging 17.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, Barnes also leads the team in minutes, assists, three pointers/attempts, and turnovers. Nearly 70% of Barnes’ field goal attempts are behind the arc, and he shoots 48.7% on his attempts. His 55 made threes not only leads the league, it ranks 4th in all of college basketball this season. Just as surprising is the fact that Barnes snags an amazing number of rebounds for his size—he’s been the team’s co-leader in rebounds every game since the switch to a four guard lineup.

Brenton Scott is a 6’1” senior who averages 14.0 points and 5.6 boards. Scott was named to the MVC Preseason First team, but his shooting percentage from distance is down again for the fourth consecutive year since his impressive freshman campaign. Still, Scott provides senior leadership and leads the team in steals and rebounds. Joining Scott and Barnes in the backcourt are 6’6” freshman guard Clayton Hughes and 6’5” grad transfer Quiydar Davis. Hughes averages 3.4 points per game on the season, but has averaged 6.5 points in the two games since becoming a starter. Davis is a guard who’s built like an undersized forward, and plays a lot like Donte Ingram; he causes some matchup problems for opponents, can shoot well enough from three to be a threat, leads the team in free throw percentage, and averages 10.9 points and 5.2 boards per game.

The center position is manned by 6’7” senior Brandon Murphy. He averages 7.1 points and 4.0 rebounds playing just under 20 minutes per game. Six-nine junior center Emondre Rickman comes off the bench to spell Murphy, and averages 4.5 points and 4.4 rebounds.

The problem with the four-guard lineup is playing time—too much for the guards and not enough for the reasonably talented frontcourt players stuck on the bench. There’s not much experience or offensive firepower on the bench to replace any of the starting guards. Six-two freshman Tyreke Key gets the most minutes off the bench, averaging 8.6 points per game, but he shoots only 35% from the field, and less than 30% from three. Six-foot-eight junior forward Devin Thomas and 6’8” sophomore forward Bronson Kessinger are both seeing reduced minutes since they each received several starts with three-guard starting five. Thomas averages 4.5 points and Kessinger averages 3.4.

Barnes ranks third in the MVC in minutes per game at 33.5, and Scott is averaging just under 32. Scott played 41 minutes in ISU’s overtime loss at Illinois State on Sunday, and Barnes had 36 minutes due only to playing with four fouls near the end of the game. The Trees were held to a season-low 19% (4-for-21) on three-point attempts, blew a 10-point lead with 7 minutes left, and missed two tries to win in the final five seconds of regulation before losing 84-81 in OT.

Loyola is coming off a tough 66-59 win over Evansville in which the Ramblers trailed by eight at halftime. Guard Ben Richardson has returned to the team from a fractured hand after missing 10 games, and it appeared that it took the team 20 minutes or so to get back into the flow with the team’s top defender back on the court. Point guard Clayton Custer should be just about ready to come back from his ankle injury. The Ramblers should be a favorite by 6-9 points, but the Sycamores have a way of pushing other teams by finding weaknesses. For the Ramblers, rebounding, interior defense, and defending the three-point line going to be important against the Trees.

Loyola game notes: http://www.loyolaramblers.com/documents/2018/1/1//Indiana_State_Home_Notes_1_3_18.pdf?id=4777

Indiana State game notes: http://www.gosycamores.com/documents/2018/1/2//INS_15Notes.pdf

TV/Streaming video: http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3244751/indiana-state-vs-loyolachicago-m-basketball

Stats: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=189598

Vegas odds: Pending