Jackie Carmichael poured in 20 points in the 69-66 loss at Louisville. (photo by GoRedbirds.com)
By Zach Dietmeier
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Illinois State led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but No. 5 Louisville came from behind to edge the Redbirds, 69-66, Saturday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center.
ISU's Tyler Brown led all scorers with 25 points, while Jackie Carmichael added 20. The Redbirds fell to 5-2 and the Cardinals improved to 6-1.
ISU (52.1 percent) outshot Louisville (45.5 percent) from the field, but the Cardinals out-rebounded the Redbirds, 33-30. Both teams collected 13 assists, while Illinois State committed 22 turnovers and Louisville was charged with 15. Russ Smith led the Cardinals with 24 points.
"Our guys really played hard, but I'm really disappointed," said ISU Coach Dan Muller. "Our team competed and they continued to fight, but we made a few mistakes. Those guards are terrific and highly athletic and we still had an opportunity at the end."
Illinois State jumped out early to a 7-2 lead with a dunk by Carmichael, followed by a Bryant Allen jumper and a three by Brown. The Redbirds added onto their lead with seven more unanswered points, with a layup by Carmichael, followed by a Nick Ziesloft steal and a fast-break dunk by Brown. Carmichael netted another layup to increase ISU's lead to 14-2 with 12:54 left in the first half.
Brown netted his second three of the game to give Illinois State a 17-4 advantage. The Cardinals then went on a 6-2 run to pull closer at 19-10, with 10:29 remaining. Both teams proceeded to match each other, with Illinois State taking a 33-25 halftime advantage.
Much like Illinois State's run to start the game, the Cardinals began the second half on a 10-2 streak to tie the game, 35-35, with 17:31 remaining. A layup by Chane Behanan gave Louisville its first lead since he scored the first basket of the game. But the Cardinals' 37-35 advantage was short-lived, as the Redbirds responded with a 6-2 run, on a tip-in by Brown and back-to-back layups by Johnny Hill.
"We were so hungry for a win today after Northwestern," said Hill. "It doesn't matter whose name is on that jersey, I'm competitive and they beat me. I don't like losing but I guess it will make us better down the road."
The Redbirds later regained a five-point advantage with an ally-oop dunk from Anthony Cousin to Carmichael, followed by a Ziesloft three-pointer. However, the Cardinals regained the lead, 58-57, with a Behanan jumper.
Illinois State responded with a jump shot by John Wilkins, who was also fouled, but he did not make the free throw, and ISU's lead remained 61-60, with 4:25 to play. An ensuing three-pointer by Peyton Siva put Louisville ahead for good, as he gave the Cardinals a 63-61 advantage at the 4:16 mark.
Another layup by Behanan was answered by a Carmichael layup, and a layup by Siva was answered by an Allen three-pointer to trim Louisville's lead to 67-66 with 1:17 left. The Redbirds had a chance to go back in front after Behanan missed two free throws, but Carmichael missed a well-defended shot in the paint, and Jon Ekey was forced to foul Siva, who proceeded to make both shots. Brown attempted and missed a three with 18 seconds left, followed by another with less than one second remaining, allowing Louisville to hold on for the win.
"We want to play really good teams," said Muller. "This team is not going to be afraid of tough environments. If you wait until January to play a tough road game, you won't have the same confidence."
Hill made his first career start after freshman point guard Kaza Keane was sidelined with a sprained ankle suffered during practice Thursday. Hill netted eight points with six assists, two rebounds and one steal. Keane did not play Saturday.
"I came in with the mindsight that I didn't want to let my team down," said Hill. "I just tried to let the team know we were fighting through together. It's a challenge playing against a team like this."
With Illinois State's longest road-trip of the regular season complete, the Redbirds return to Normal for three straight home games, beginning against Wyoming on Tuesday night. Redbird Preview starts at 6 p.m on WJBC and WJBC.com.
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.