NORMAL, Ill. — In the off-season, the Wichita State Shockers made the move from the Missouri Valley Conference to the American Athletic Conference.
The move added stiffer competition for the Shockers and bolstered the talent level of the AAC as a conference. At the same time, it opened up the Missouri Valley Conference and made the race for the league title much more exciting than in year’s past.
The Missouri State Bears came into the season as the preseason favourites, and have lived up to the bill through three games. Coming into Sunday’s contest against the Illinois State Redbirds, the Bears are one of just two teams who are still undefeated in Missouri Valley Conference play, along with the Drake Bulldogs (4-0).
Missouri State has won four straight games, and will be looking to move to 4-0 in conference play. The Redbirds won’t make things easy, as they are coming off a loss that ended their own four-game winning streak. On their home floor, Illinois State will be looking to start a new winning streak at the expense of the Bears.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Illinois State sophomore Keyshawn Evans said he liked the rims inside Scottrade Center.
It showed on Friday afternoon.
Propelled by 15 points from Evans and a 19-point, 5-rebound, 2-assist performance by senior Deontae Hawkins, the Redbirds (26-5, 17-1) fought off pesky Evansville (16-17, 6-12), 80-69.
Bench production decided the contest. Illinois State outscored Evansville 30-8 in the battle of subs.
“Credit to Evansville. I thought they played unbelievably hard,” said Illinois State head coach Dan Muller. “They competed (and) had to keep fighting back. (They) had to make some big plays down the stretch.”
NORMAL, Ill. — The Birds in red have done it again.
In a matchup of Missouri Valley Conference unbeatens, Illinois State defeated Wichita State, 76-62. A combined 21 points off the bench flew the Redbirds ahead of the relentless Shockers in front of a crowd of 9,078.
“I’m really happy for our team. We continue to guard at a high level,” said Illinois State head coach Dan Muller. “A lot of guys stepped up and made plays offensively. I thought we had a couple things that we hurt them with. In the end, guys made shots.”