Redbirds tip Flames in final non-conference tuneup

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Junior wing Milik Yarbrough led the Redbirds with 20 points to go with 7 rebounds in a 71-70 win over UIC on Tuesday night in Normal. Junior wing Milik Yarbrough led the Redbirds with 20 points to go with 7 rebounds in a 71-70 win over UIC on Tuesday night in Normal.

NORMAL -- Illinois State's non-conference slate will go down as one of the most unusual, at times bizarre, in program history.

From injuries and absences to wins over two SEC opponents to frustrating losses, it was a wild ride, one that head coach Dan Muller predicted back in the team's preseason media day. He knew it'd be an at times rocky journey, with an already-green roster at partial strength and a highly challenging gantlet of games.

The Redbirds are still far from full strength as key players like David N'Diaye return to the rotation from injury -- but on Tuesday night they capped off the non-conference slate on a high note, edging UIC 71-70 to improve to 6-6 on the season, 5-6 against Division-I opponents.

Reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player (and Newcomer) of the Week Milik Yarbrough continued his torrid play and led the Redbirds with 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting to go with 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks. On a night in which Illinois State shot just 39.7 percent from the floor and 19 percent from deep, his offensive efficiency were greatly appreciated by the Redbirds.

As a team the Redbirds also shot just 46.4 percent from the free throw line and were outrebounded by the Flames 44-35. The key stat in the Illinois State win was turnovers, and the Redbirds forced 20 of them while turning the ball over just 7 times themselves.

Post Phil Fayne added 16 points and 6 rebounds, while guard Keyshawn Evans scored 13 with 4 assists but struggled efficiency-wise with a 3-for-14 night from the floor.

Illinois State opens up Missouri Valley Conference play on the road this Saturday at 1 p.m. against Evansville (8-2 vs. Division-I opponents).
 

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