After a well needed break from academics, the Indiana State men’s basketball team kept busy with four games in nine days. This stretch was huge for the Sycamores, winning two of three games in the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas and winning their home opener against UMSL.
On Nov. 21, the Sycamores opened up play in the Junkanoo Jam with a close loss against the Duquesne Dukes (4-0). After having a six-point lead at the half, the Dukes outplayed the Sycamores by a large margin in the second half to win 74-71. Junior guard Tyreke Key led ISU with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 5-5 from the foul line. Key added six rebounds but had seven costly turnovers. ISU freshman forward Jake Laravia had a breakout performance with 18 points on 7-9 shooting in just 22 minutes. ISU senior center Bronson Kessinger added eight points and three rebounds off the bench. Senior center Baylee Steele led the way for the Dukes with 20 points on 7-11 shooting while coming off of the bench.
The following day, the Sycamores bounced back with a 72-60 win against Loyola Marymount (2-3). ISU dominated the second half after leading by one at the break. ISU senior guard Jordan Barnes led the way with 29 points on 8-10 shooting, including 7-9 on three-pointers and 6-7 on free throws. Barnes added five rebounds and four assists. Sophomore guard Cooper Neese added a big game with 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and four three-pointers made. Lavaria added 10 points. Sophomore forward Ivan Alipiev led the way with 13 points for the Lions.
On Nov. 24, the Sycamores wrapped up play in the Junkanoo Jam with an 84-74 win against Air Force (2-5). Key poured in 26 points on 8-17 shooting, adding six rebounds and six assists. Neese added 16 points and Barnes had 13 points. The team shot the ball extremely well, shooting 56.5 percent from the field and 57.7 percent from behind the line. Senior guard Caleb Morris led the Falcons with 18 points.
On Nov. 30, the Sycamores won their third straight game with a home opener 62-55 victory against Missouri-St. Louis. Neese led the way with 19 points on 6-9 shooting, including 4-6 from three. Key added 16 including 9-9 from the foul line. For the Rivermen, Yaakema Rose led the way with 15 points.
“I’ve been talking about looking in the mirror and asking yourself ‘did I do enough today?’” said Indiana State Head Basketball Coach Greg Lansing, “How do I make us better? Each individual will make us better as a team. This has to be the start, it cannot be the end and us being an inconsistent team this year. We have to continue to develop and get better. It’s a long season. I believe in them, I believe it’s in them and I believe we can get there.”
Lansing went on to speak about the sense of urgency within the team to get on a winning track saying,
“It starts with your seniors and upperclassmen and how hard those guys work individually on the own game. We have to speak to each other and hold each other accountable. It’s going to be a process with these guys, but things have to change and things have to get better.”
On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. the Sycamores (3-4) will host North Dakota State (5-3). The Bisons are led by guard Vinnie Shahid who comes in averaging 13.1 points per game, 3.9 rebounds per game, 2.5 assists per game, and 1.6 steals per game. Another strong player the Sycamores will have to look out for is guard Tyson Ward who averages 11.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. This will be the second game at the Hulman Center this season. You can watch the game on ESPN+, or listen in on WIBQ 97.9 F.M.