NORMAL, Ill. (WAND) -- So much for a "rebuilding season."

Illinois State made a statement in Wednesday night's season opener at Redbird Arena when it beat Belmont 79-72. Head coach Dan Muller's squad sent a message to the rest of the league that the Redbirds have a much higher ceiling than their seventh place preseason poll would indicate.

Guard Zach Copeland led the way with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Five Redbirds in all scored double figures.

Illinois State next welcomes Little Rock to Redbird Arena for a 3 p.m. Sunday tilt.