Indiana State basketball travels to St. Louis for the 2021-22 State Farm MVC Tournament beginning Thursday at Enterprise Center. The No. 9 Sycamores faceoff with No. 8 Illinois State at 7 p.m. ET.
The game will air on the MVC TV Network and on ESPN+ as well as on the radio on 105.5 The Legend and GoSycamores.com/Listen. Full bracket and other information can be found here at the Arch Madness Championship Central page.
» After facing off with the Redbirds in the regular-season finale, Thursday’s game at Arch Madness will mark the 130th meeting between the two programs with Illinois State leading the series 68-61. The Sycamores are 41-20 at home, 19-43 on the road and 3-5 on neutral floors against Illinois State.
HEAD COACH JOSH SCHERTZ
» Indiana State basketball is under new leadership as first-year head coach Josh Schertz takes over the reins of the program. Schertz takes over after a 13-year run at NCAA Division II Lincoln Memorial University where he had a career record of 337-69 (.831) en route to four national coach of the year honors. Schertz led the Railsplitters to 10 NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, won 14 total conference championships and three Southeast Regional titles, and had five seasons of 30-or-more victories.
SYCAMORES AT ARCH MADNESS
» Indiana State is 27-38 all-time in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, including a record of 3-5 against Illinois State — the Sycamores’ opponent Thursday night. The last time the Sycamores and Redbirds matched up during Arch Madness was in 2018 with ILS coming out on top 77-70.
MVC POSTSEASON HONORS FOR THE TREES
» Earlier this week ISU guards Cooper Neese, Cameron Henry and Xavier Bledson picked up postseason accolades. Neese was named Third Team All-MVC as well as to the MVC Most Improved Team. Cameron Henry was named to the All-Newcomer Team while Bledson earned All-Bench Team honors.
» Indiana State’s Cooper Neese and Cameron Henry both rank in the top-10 in the Missouri Valley in scoring with Neese coming in at No. 5 with 15.4 points per contest while Henry is scoring at a clip of 14.4 points per game which ranks ninth.
THE NEESE FILE
» Cooper Neese scored a career high 35 points during a double overtime win at Evansville (2/10). The guard tied a career high with five 3-pointers in the game while also pulling down six rebounds in 49 minutes.
» Neese became the 14th Sycamore in program history to record 35 points or more in a single game, joining the likes of Larry Bird, Butch Wade, John Sherman Williams, Carl Nicks, Nate Green among others. It marks the highest scoring output for a Sycamore since Marico Stinson scored 37 against Drake in 2006.
» Cooper Neese joined the Indiana State basketball 1,000-point club after scoring 19 against Southern Illinois in his last outing. Neese is the 41st ISU basketball player to do so.
» Neese hit five 3-pointers at UE to move into sole possession of fifth place in school history in career 3-pointers. He has hit 174 triples in 102 games over his career.
» Neese has scored in double-figures in 18 games this season, scoring 15 or more in 15 games. His 2.4 made 3-pointers per game lead ISU and ranks fourth in the MVC.
HENRY IS A MATCHUP NIGHTMARE
» After transferring from Lincoln Memorial a year ago, Cameron Henry made an immediate impact on the Sycamores this season. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 14.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game over 27 games played this season. He finished ninth in the MVC in scoring and rebounding while finishing 10th in assists.
» Henry finished the season with 21 double-digit scoring efforts including a career high 28 points at Valparaiso on February 5. He finished the regular season with three double-doubles, including back-to-back games against Hanover (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Old Dominion (14 points, 13 rebounds).
STEPHENS CLICKING AT THE RIGHT TIME
» Over his last five outings, forward Kailex Stephens is averaging a team high 15.2 points while playing 34.6 minutes per game. Stephens has scored at least 11 points in each game while going for a career high 21 against Southern Illinois. Stephens has also shown the ability to shoot the ball from deep at a much higher clip, going 4-for-7 from behind the arc at Drake, hitting a 3-pointer in all but one of his last four games. His 5.2 rebounds per game leads the team during the stretch.
BLEDSON DOES IT ALL
» Bledson saw action in 25 games for ISU while starting in nine games. Playing 25.3 minutes per game, Bledson led the Sycamores with 94 assists and ranked sixth in the MVC with 3.8 assists per game. He recorded multiple assists in all but six games including a season-high 10 assists against Alabama A&M.
» To go with his passing ability, Bledson also averaged 9.2 points per game during the regular season. The guard scored 15 or more points six times with a season high 21 coming at Southern Illinois (Jan. 19). A strong performer at the free throw line, he led ISU and ranked third in the MVC with an 88.9 percent clip (64-72) at the charity stripe.
LET IT RAIN
» Indiana State continues to shoot the ball from deep at a high rate, ranking tops in the MVC and 31st nationally in 3-point attempts with 780. ISU has hit at least five threes in each game this season and has hit 10+ shots from deep eight times. The Sycamores have come close to tying the single-game school record (18) on three occasions with 16 triples against Midway (12/29) and 15 3-pointers against Hanover (11/14) and Bradley (1/2).
» ISU’s 780 attempted 3-pointers has surpassed the previous school record of 749 which was set during the 2017-18 season. The Sycamores are just seven triples away from tying the school record for 3-pointers made in a season at 270 from the same 2017-18 season.
MOVING THE ROCK
» Indiana State ranks third in the MVC behind Loyola and Bradley with 13.2 assists per game. Five players have recorded over 40 assists with Xavier Bledson leading ISU with 94.
GOOD FROM THE STRIPE
» ISU has improved its season average at the free-throw line to 78 percent — good enough for third in the MVC and 13th nationally. Xavier Bledson leads ISU with an 88.9 percent (64-for-72) free throw percentage while Cooper Neese is shooting 82.3 percent (65-for-79) from the line. Six other Sycamores shoot 70 percent or better from the charity stripe.