TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The temperature inside Hulman Center was almost sauna-like during pregame warm-ups Tuesday night.
Then the game started — and Indiana State really turned up the heat on Illinois State.
The depleted Sycamores, playing without their two leading scorers, took advantage of numerous open 3-point looks. Indiana State sank 11-of-21 shots outside the arc en route to a 72-57 victory over the struggling Redbirds before a crowd of 4,275.
“We need to get all five guys in a defensive stance for 30 seconds or whatever,” said ISU guard Anthony Cousin. “We need to all get together as one team and learn from our mistakes.”
ISU has given up 154 points in its last two games in falling to 8-6 overall and 0-3 in the Missouri Valley Conference for the first time since 2007. It doesn’t get easier on Friday when league favorite Wichita State (12-2, 3-0) visits Redbird Arena at 7:05 p.m.
Indiana State (7-7, 2-1) was short-handed with Dwayne Lathan out with a concussion and Jake Kelly sidelined with a foot injury. Lathan is the Valley’s fourth-leading scorer with a 14.8 average, while Kelly adds 11.2 points.
But the Sycamores didn’t seem to mind.
Six different Indiana State players made at least one 3-pointer, with senior Jordan Printy coming off the bench to knock down 3-of-3. Indiana State went 7-of-11 from distance in the first half in taking a 43-31 lead.
“They shoot a lot of deep balls, but certainly there were more open looks than we can afford,” said ISU coach Tim Jankovich. “We lost the game in the first half because we did not guard well enough. We didn’t play well enough on the defensive end. That’s part of the formula to try and win on the road.”
With Jackie Carmichael (16 points) and Cousin (12 points) on the bench with two fouls, Indiana State ended the first half on a 13-5 run to go ahead by 12. The 43 points was the most ISU has given up in the first half this season.
The Redbirds showed some defensive life early in the second half. ISU stopped the Sycamores on their first five possessions, cutting the deficit to 43-37.
Carl Richard sank a 16-foot jumper and Printy followed with a 3-pointer to push the Sycamores’ lead back to 11. The Redbirds could have gotten within five later, but Cousin missed the front end of a one-and-bonus with 6:59 left.
Indiana State then went on a 9-2 run to clinch its 10th straight home-court victory, its longest since winning 22 in a row from 1999-2001. The Redbirds have lost four straight games at the Hulman Center.
First-year Indiana State coach Greg Lansing didn’t worry about not having his top two scorers. Senior guard Aaron Carter led the way with 14 points, while redshirt freshman point guard Jake Odum added 13. Printy (11) and RJ Mahurin (10) led the bench charge.
“We had a lot of people movement and ball movement and people being unselfish,” said Lansing. “We throw the ball in there (to the post) and it doesn’t matter if we score or not. It loosens up the perimeter defense.”
Carmichael said the Redbirds knew what the Sycamores were going to do.
“We were too strung away from the ball and they capitalized on that,” he said. “We have been working on how to rotate and switch screens, but we got a little confused and mixed up.”
Jankovich also said ISU got a false sense of security early in the game when the teams were trading baskets.
“We have so many lessons to learn,” he said. “One is not to start the game with that type of defensive mentality.”
Redbird Report Card
FRONT COURT - B-: Jackie Carmichael and John Wilkins combined to go 9-of-11, but Indiana State grabbed 31-27 rebounding edge and 10 offensive boards.
BACKCOURT - C-: Anthony Cousin had another good offensive game, but perimeter defense gave Sycamore way too many open 3-point looks.
BENCH - D: Reserves didn't pick up starters in first half when Carmichael and Cousin were out with two fouls each. That was the ball game.
OVERALL - C-: Indiana State was more aggressive team and deserved to win. The Redbirds have to bounce back quickly for Wichita State on Friday.