All posts by Peyton Wesner

Peyton Wesner is a University of Illinois journalism major who has religiously watched MMA since July of 2013. He has written about the sport since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @pcwesner.

RECAP: Tony Wills, Illinois State defeat Southern Illinois, finish unbeaten at home

Photo courtesy of Peyton Wesner.

NORMAL, Ill. — Paris Lee made it clear on Sunday: He was not losing on Senior Night.

“I love our fans. They come out and support us and show us love,” said the Illinois State senior from Maywood, Illinois. “I can’t lose on Senior Night.”

The Redbirds, in a defensive struggle, finished the regular season a perfect 15-0 at home by defeating Southern Illinois, 50-46. Senior Tony Wills netted 16 points while sophomore Phil Fayne recorded his third career double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.

“[We] had big plays down the stretch, again,” said Illinois State head coach Dan Muller, who captured his 100th career win in the process. “Our defensive numbers were great. It’s pretty cool to be a part of the first team to go undefeated in Redbird Arena history.”

The Redbirds were as red hot as their uniforms at the start. Wills nailed back-to-back three-pointers to light a fire. Continue reading RECAP: Tony Wills, Illinois State defeat Southern Illinois, finish unbeaten at home

RECAP: #25 Wichita State obliterates Evansville, extends win streak to 11 games

Photo courtesy of Tony Adame/The Wichita Eagle.
WICHITA, Kan. — They’re back and the whole Missouri Valley Conference is watching.

One day after being ranked in the Coaches’ Poll for a fifth consecutive season, the Wichita State Shockers extended their winning streak to 11 games defeating Evansville, 109-83. Shaq Morris’ 18 points led six Shockers who scored in double-figures.

“Obviously it’s a big night,” said Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall. “I don’t know if we have ever scored 109 against a defense that good. I don’t know if we have scored 109 period.”

Evansville led for 69 seconds. The Purple Aces had leads at 4-2 and 7-5 during the opening three minutes.

Wichita State recovered quickly, reeling off 12 unanswered. Landry Shamet nailed back-to-back triples following the first media timeout to surge the charge. Continue reading RECAP: #25 Wichita State obliterates Evansville, extends win streak to 11 games

RECAP: Illinois State survives Loyola, 65-63

Photo courtesy of David Proeber & The Pantagraph.

NORMAL, Ill. — 11 days.

Arch Madness, also known as the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, is just 11 days away, but before the action heads to St. Louis, Illinois State and Loyola had business to settle at Redbird Arena. 

And, the action did not disappoint.

Concluding the season series between two of Illinois’ best, the Redbirds fended off the pesky Ramblers, 65-63. A pair of Deontae Hawkins free throws gave Illinois State the lead prior to Ben Richardson’s half court heave rimming out at the horn.

“I feel lucky that we won, to be honest,” said Illinois State head coach Dan Muller. “Obviously, one inch or another and we don’t win.

“We got to start playing better.”

A sea of 8,052 was rocking from the tip. Surged by six from senior Deontae Hawkins, Illinois State flew out to an 8-2 lead.

The Ramblers came racing back, sprinting on a 12-6 mini-run. Three free throws from Donte Ingram tied the contest at 14 with 10:24 remaining.  Continue reading RECAP: Illinois State survives Loyola, 65-63

RECAP: Illinois State cruises past Evansville, starts MVC play 10-0

Photo courtesy of Denny Simmons, Evansville Courier & Press.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — From Missouri State to Wichita State, the Illinois State Redbirds have passed every test Missouri Valley Conference play has thrown at them.

But, there are no “gimmes” in “The Valley.”

Thanks to a dominant second-half from senior Deontae Hawkins, Illinois State, without MiKyle McIntosh, subdued Evansville, 69-59. The win flew the Redbirds to 10-0 in conference play, their best MVC start in school history.

“It was a really gritty win by our guys. [We were] short-handed [and] in foul trouble. Our defense was really solid tonight,” Illinois State head coach Dan Muller said. “I’m really proud of our guys.” Continue reading RECAP: Illinois State cruises past Evansville, starts MVC play 10-0

North Carolina’s Theo Pinson ruled OUT, no timetable on return

Photo courtesy of Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports.

Since Theo Pinson has returned from a broken right foot, the North Carolina Tar Heels are a perfect 6-0.

Unfortunately for Roy Williams, life without the junior has re-emerged.

Per a press release, Pinson is ruled out from tomorrow’s contest at Miami. Last night, the 6’6″ forward rolled his ankle during North Carolina’s 91-72 victory over Virginia Tech. No timetable exists for how long his absence will last. Continue reading North Carolina’s Theo Pinson ruled OUT, no timetable on return

USC’s Bennie Boatwright progressing, could play next week

Photo courtesy of Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports.

After scoring their biggest win of the season, USC head coach Andy Enfield may be getting back a soldier.

Per Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports, sophomore Bennie Boatwright is eyeing a return next week during the Trojans’ road-trip in Washington. The 6’10” forward has been sidelined since November 30, missing the last 15 games due to a sprained left knee.

“We’re hoping to get him back on our next road trip, but it’s still to be determined,” Enfield told Rothstein on Friday. “He hasn’t done a full-contact practice yet so we’ll see, but we’re anxious to get him back.” Continue reading USC’s Bennie Boatwright progressing, could play next week