NCAA Hoops: Indiana upends Northwestern

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NCAA Hoops: Indiana upends Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) -- Cody Zeller had 21 points and 13 rebounds to help No. 2 Indiana beat Northwestern 67-59 Sunday.
Jordan Hulls added 15 points. Christian Watford scored 14, and the Hoosiers (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten) hung on after things got tense down the stretch.
They led by 17 in the first half and were up 31-17 at intermission, but Northwestern (11-8, 2-4) rattled them with its trap in the second. The Wildcats got within five three times, but the Hoosiers prevailed after seeing a six-game win streak end with a loss to Wisconsin last week.

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ISU finally picks up first conference win at SIU's expense

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) Tyler Brown scored 22 points and Jackie Carmichael had 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead Illinois State over Southern Illinois 70-56 Sunday night, snapping a six-game losing streak.

Brown had six 3-pointers to lead the Redbirds (10-9, 1-6) in their first Missouri Valley Conference win of the season. Carmichael, the team's top scorer, was 7 of 12 from the field in reaching his double-double.

Johnny Hill had six assists as the Redbirds shot 45 percent from the field for the game. The Redbirds had 41 rebounds.

The Redbirds took the lead early in the game and were up 47-21 at halftime. Illinois State never looked back.

Jeff Early led Southern Illinois with 16 points and nine rebounds. Kendal Brown-Surles had 13 points, and Desmar Jackson added 11.

Southern Illinois (8-10, 1-6) shot 41.8 percent from the field and had 31 rebounds.

Southern Illinois leads the overall series 75-67.

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Loyola tops Chicago St. in OT

CHICAGO (AP) Ben Averkamp had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead Loyola of Chicago over Chicago State 66-63 in overtime Sunday night, snapping a four-game losing streak.

Averkamp was 7 of 16 from the floor in his double-double performance.

Jordan Hicks scored 13 points, and Christian Thomas had 12 points and a team-high 13 rebounds for Loyola of Chicago (11-7, 1-4 Horizon League). Joe Crisman had six assists.

Loyola led 33-22 at halftime, but the teams were tied at 57 at the end of regulation.

The Ramblers shot 44.6 percent from the field for the game, while the Cougars shot 34.8 percent. Loyola outrebounded Chicago State 43-29.

Jeremy Robinson led Chicago State with 16 points. Quinton Pippen scored 14, Jamere Dismukes had 13 and Clarke Rosenberg added 10 for the Cougars (6-15, 0-0 Great West). Robinson, Dismukes and Matt Ross all finished with five rebounds.

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Chicago native Paris Lee doing all he can to make sure Illinois State's NCAA Tournament bubble doesn't burst

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USA TODAY

Chicago native Paris Lee doing all he can to make sure Illinois State's NCAA Tournament bubble doesn't burst

Dan Muller didn't even have to say anything.

The Illinois State men's basketball coach certainly didn't want his team to lose focus, not with what the game against Bradley meant for the Redbirds' NCAA tournament chances. 

But as Bradley mounted a comeback in the second half of what initially appeared to be a blowout, senior point guard Paris Lee stepped up and delivered all that needed to be said.

"Paris led us like he always does," senior forward Deontae Hawkins said. "The defense was slacking later in the game and Paris called us out and told us, 'We're too old to keep following our old habits.'"

[RELATED —​ MVC tripleheader on CSN Wednesday night, including ISU-Missouri State at 8 p.m.]

The Redbirds wound up cruising to a 64-50 win over Bradley to improve their record in the Missouri Valley Conference to 13-1 (21-5 overall) and Lee took home MVC player of the week honors for his effort.

It was all the more important given the audience at Redbird Arena Saturday night.

At halftime, Illinois State honored the 1998 team, the last Redbirds squad to make it to the NCAA Tournament back when Muller was filling an important role as a player instead of a coach.

Now in his fifth year at the helm of ISU, Muller has improved the Redbirds' record in the MVC in each season. With four conference games left — including Wednesday night's tilt against Missouri State on CSN — Muller has already set a new high mark with 13 conference wins.

And he's been leaning heavily on Lee to do so.

Muller said Lee's impassioned mid-game speech to his teammates has become a common sight this year as Lee — a native of Maywood, Ill. just outside Chicago — has grown more comfortable in a leadership role.

"Paris is pretty locked in," Muller said. "He's been a coach on that floor all year; he has been since he's been here [at ISU]. That's one of the areas he's probably improved the most over the last four — his leadership, his competitive spirit, his comfort level and taking control of the team."

Lee admitted his transformation into a leader was not always a natural fit.

"I feel like I had no other choice but to start maturing because we had a lot of new guys on the team and a lot of younger guys looking up to me," he said. "So I had to. I was kinda forced to grow up. 

"In previous years, I've always had teammates that were able to take the load from me, talk, do everything I should do. But this year, I had no choice but to [step up as a leader]."

Lee is all in — down to his red-tipped dreadlocks that he joked gives him more swag and a pair of sick red Jordans — on getting the Redbirds back to the NCAA Tournament in his final season. He's already set a new career high in assists, thriving as a playmaker/facilitator.

"I'm very hungry, man," Lee said. "I'm gonna continue to play the right way, not try to do too much. Just try to do the right thing to help my team win."

Wednesday on CSN: Missouri Valley with three games on CSN/CSN+

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Wednesday on CSN: Missouri Valley with three games on CSN/CSN+

The Missouri Valley has a busy day night of basketball on CSN and CSN+ on Wednesday night.

It starts at 6 p.m. with Southern Illinois hosting Wichita State on CSN. After that game on CSN, Illinois State will travel to Missouri State in a game that will air live at 8 p.m.

CSN+ will also air another live Missouri Valley matchup at 7 p.m. as Northern Iowa hosts Bradley.

[RELATED - Chicago native Paris Lee doing all he can to make sure Illinois State's NCAA Tournament bubble doesn't burst]

Southern Illinois (14-13, 7-7) is trying to compete for the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament as they get a big opportunity to host a conference leader. Senior guard Mike Rodriguez leads the Salukis in points (12.9 ppg) and assists (4.2 apg).

Wichita State (23-4, 13-1) are not only fighting for the conference regular season title but also a potential NCAA tournament bid. The Shockers are a balanced group led by Markis McDuffie (11.8 ppg). 

The second game on CSN has Illinois State going to Missouri State.

The Redbirds (21-5, 13-1) will have a tough one on the road as they only beat the Bears by three in early January at home. Deontae Hawkins is leading the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game as Illinois State tries to adjust to playing without MiKyle McIntosh. 

Missouri State (15-12, 6-8) has lost three straight games. Junior forward Alize Johnson leads the Bears in scoring at 15.4 points per game. 

The third game of the night will be on CSN+ as Northern Iowa is hosting Bradley at 7 p.m.

The Panthers (13-12, 8-6) have won three straight games as they've made a push into third place in the Valley. Senior Jeremy Morgan (15.4 points, 6.1 rebounds per game) is having a strong season as he's looking like an all-conference player.

Bradley (9-18, 4-10) beat Northern Iowa, 72-61, the last two time these teams met in Peoria as the Braves have lost two straight games. Freshman guard Darrell Brown leads the team in scoring at 12.2 points per game.