UC Santa Barbara (0-1) at Illinois State (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 12, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Redbird Arena (10,200) -- Normal, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: UCSB 0-0, ISU 0-0. Away Record: UCSB 0-1, ISU 0-0. Neutral Record: UCSB 0-0, ISU 0-0. Conference Record: UCSB 0-0, ISU 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Illinois State Redbirds will make their season debut at home tonight with a new coach at the helm as they take on the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.
UCSB got its season off on the wrong foot on Friday night with a 77-63 loss at the hands of LSU. With a roster than includes seven freshmen and three sophomores, the Gauchos are the third-youngest team in the nation, and they will need to use the opening month of the season to come together as a unit.
Illinois State put together a strong campaign in 2011-12 with a 21-14 overall record, while finishing in a five-way tie for third-place in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 9-9 mark in the league. The year culminated in a berth in the NIT following a loss to Creighton in MVC Tournament Championship Game, although at year's end head coach Tim Jankovich left the team to accept a position at SMU. Dan Muller is now at the helm for the Redbirds. He spent the last 11 seasons as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt.
These two teams have split the previous two games in the all-time series.
It was a sloppy performance for UCSB in the opener, as there was no rhythm at the offensive end of the floor, as the team connected on just 37.3 percent of its field goal attempts and actually committed four more turnovers (23) than field goals made (19). The Gauchos also did a poor job at containing a modest LSU scoring attack, allowing the Tigers to drain nearly 45 percent of their total shots, including 10 three-pointers. Leading the way was Kyle Boswell, who scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor. Boswell was trailed by Alan Williams, who recorded 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks. With the majority of last year's scoring production no longer on the roster, Boswell and Williams will assume the role of go-to options. Rounding out the double- digit scorers was Michael Bryson, who poured in 10 points off the bench. Taran Brown started at forward and was tied for the team-lead with 27 minutes played, but he converted just 1-of-10 field goal attempts.
Illinois State returns most of its talent from last year's squad, which has a factor in the team being picked to finish second in the MVC preseason rankings, its highest ranking since 2001-02. The biggest piece of the puzzle is without a doubt forward Jackie Carmichael, who comes in as a preseason All- MVC selection after putting up solid numbers a year ago (13.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 50 blocks). Tyler Brown was an excellent complement to Carmichael on the outside, as he averaged 13.7 ppg, and if he can duplicate that success the Redbirds will once again have one of the best inside-outside duos in the league. Jon Ekey (9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg) also returns to the lineup after a productive freshman campaign. Geoffrey Allen, a 6-6 transfer from Eastern Washington, figures to play a pivotal role in the team's rotation.
The young UCSB squad still needs a lot of seasoning, as it is not yet the kind of squad that can go out on the road and beat a quality opponent. Redbird Arena will be rocking for Muller's debut, and Carmichael and Brown will lead the home team to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois State 74, UC Santa Barbara 59
11/12 10:39:25 ET