TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Indiana State men’s basketball accomplished something Saturday afternoon that hasn’t been done since the Larry Bird era. An 80-60 home win against UIC gave the Sycamores a 6-0 start to the Missouri Valley Conference for the first time since 1978-79, when Bird’s team made it to the NCAA National Championship game.
Courvoisier McCauley notched a double double and Julian Larry outpaced all Sycamore scorers with 18 points to help Indiana State win its fourth straight game and go 7-1 at home this season.
UIC (9-8, 1-5 MVC) opened the game with back-to-back triples, and after Indiana State (13-4, 6-0 MVC) caught up with a 10-2 run, he reclaimed a 10-8 lead 15:33 into the opening frame, the Flames and Sycamores went back and forth, with neither team more than three points clear, until 7:17 when UIC hit three free throws and then a layup to take a 23-19 lead.
After UIC led 23:19 at 7:17, the Sycamores started with a 20:2 run and never fell behind again. That run lasted nearly the final six minutes of the first half, and Indiana State shot 8 of 10 from the field during that span while UIC held from three with two turnovers to 1 of 9, including 0 of 3.
Larry launched a shot from the logo at the buzzer that gave Indiana State a 42-28 lead at halftime, and he blasted a perfect 4-of-4 from the field at the break.
McCauley extended Indiana State’s lead to 51-32 at 16:51 of the second half, on consecutive threes, and a Jayson Kent and-1 extended the lead 63-43 to 20 with 10:49 remaining. The Sycamores got their biggest lead of the game at 22 points with one Cooper Neese Jumper at 9:20 making it 67-45.
The lead reached 22 points again on a 10-0 run from Sycamore capped by a no-look pass from Robbie Avila to Kent, who finished with a layup to put himself on the scoresheet in double figures. The Flames would get a bucket back a few seconds later to end scoring in the game.
In the numbers
- The Sycamores beat the Flames 52.7 percent to 41.2 percent, keeping them over seven points below their game average.
- Indiana also won the battle on the boards, overtaking UIC 39-24. The Sycamores have passed their opponent three straight games and are 9-1 when passing their opponent.
- Julian Larrys Game level 18 points was scored by shooting 5-of-7 from the field and shooting 7-of-8 from the charity strip. The junior point guard also dished out a five-assist team-high in the game. He’s 25-of-30 with 20 assists in his last four games, and he’s hit double digits in every game in that span, including leading the team in three of those four games.
- Courvoisier McCauley hit his second double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds, a peak in a Sycamore grad-transfer jersey. He hit three triples in one game for the fourth straight year, and he’s posted in double digits in nine straight games.
- Robbie Avila hit double digits in his second straight game and finished the day with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, along with seven rebounds and three assists.
- Jayson Kent contributed 11 points from the bench for his second straight double-digit scoring game, and Cooper Neese rounded out the Sycamores in double digits with 10 points.
- Cameron Henry put up four assists and two blocks before fouling at 5:52 of the second half.
Messages & Notes
- The Sycamores improve to 6-0 to play in the Valley for the first time since Larry Bird’s side in 1978-79.
- Indiana State conceded the first basket of the game for the first time since December 11 in southern Indiana. The Sycamores are 6-2 if their opponent scores the first goal compared to 7-2 if they score the first goal themselves.
- When the Sycamores gave up two straight threes to open the game, it was the first time Indiana State had trailed in a Valley game since the 6:58 mark of the second half in Southern Illinois on December 7. It was also Indiana State’s largest deficit in a Valley game that season.
- The Sycamores led at halftime for the fourth straight season, and they lead 13-1 at halftime compared to 0-3 when trailing at halftime.
- Indiana State is 8-2 when it scores 80 points or more, and the team is 8-0 in games decided by 11 or more points.
- On Saturday, five different Sycamores hit double digits against Ball State for the first time since November 12, 2022.
The Sycamores remain in Terre Haute for a big matchup against Southern Illinois Wednesday, January 11th. Tipp-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Hulman Center when Indiana State wraps up its season streak with the Salukis.
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