BLOOMINGTON, Ill. —
Indiana State could not overcome an off night by Indiana State junior Jake Odum, who was scoring a team-high 13.9 points-per-game in Missouri Valley Conference play prior to Wednesday night in Redbird Arena.
Odum persevered, scoring all nine of his points in the last six minutes to give the Sycamores life.
But the Redbirds improved to 2-6 in league play with a 60-58 victory when Odum's 3-point attempt to win it at the buzzer hit hard off the back iron. Indiana State had a three-game winning streak snapped, falling to 12-7 overall and 5-3 in the MVC.
Odum was among many frustrated Sycamores leaving Redbird Arena. He went scoreless with no assists in the first half, missing several layup attempts in the first four minutes of action. He also had a turnover in the opening minute that led to a John Wilkins dunk.
"I just wasn't finishing. I was getting to the hole. They just didn't fall for me. I kind of let that affect the rest of my play," Odum said. "I had a couple turnovers that led to baskets on the other end. It started with me, being a leader on this team, I started a downhil effect for us at the beginning of the game."
Manny Arop was leaned upon at the offensive end as he reached double figures early in the second half. Arop finished with 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting, giving him six straight games with 10 or more points.
Clutch shots by Odum and Arop down the stretch weren't enough for the Sycamores to get over the hump as Illinois State came up with two second-chance buckets in the final four minutes.
Odum's first field goal came with 5:45 to play in the game as he drilled a 3-pointer to put the Sycamores ahead 48-47. Illinois State guard Tyler Brown answered to put the Redbirds back on top for the eighth lead change of the game.
Odum gave Indiana State its last lead when he drove the lane to put the Sycamores ahead again, 53-51 with 3:48 to go, but Illinois State's John Wilkins came up with a big tip-in bucket to make it 55-53. It was a backbreaker after Johnny Hill's game-tying bucket moments earlier was also on an offensive rebound by the Redbirds.
"We missed a lot of assignments that led to them getting second shots. We put on the board before the game that who's gonna make toughness plays without giving them second shots, and we didn't do a great job of that tonight," ISU coach Greg Lansing said.
Indiana State defended 6-foot-9 center Jackie Carmichael well in the first half, limiting him to five points on 1-of-5 shooting. But Carmichael had several monster dunks in the second half on his way to finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds.
ISU never found a rhythm in the first half, shooting 41.4 percent and committing eight turnovers that led to nine Illinois State points.
"I didn't think we played well in the first half at all," Lansing said. "I thought we played hard enough in the second half to win.When we got the lead, we couldn't get stops. I think there were a couple crucial times when they got offensive rebound baskets. Give [the Redbirds] credit, that's a good team."
Arop's play in the first half helped keep the Sycamores close in the first half.
After Illinois State's Tyler Brown got in the passing lane and converted for a dunk to cap an 8-0 run to make it 20-13, Arop scored on three straight Sycamore possessions.
Arop pierced the Redbirds' man-to-man defense with a slippery drive from the right wing, then hit a 15-footer off the dribble before pulling ISU within 22-19 with a post-up bucket assisted by Justin Gant.
Gant set up Dawon Cummings for a 3-pointer with 3:49 before the half, only the second 3-pointer of the first 20 minutes as illinois State went 0-of-9 from long range.
ISU went 0-of-6 at the foul line in the first half. Khristian Smith missed two at the stripe with 27.4 seconds left, and Illinois State guard Anthony Cousin beat the buzzer with a outback 15-footer.