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Courtesy: ISU Athletics
Justin Gant Records Double-Double As Sycamores Down Redbirds In MVC Opener
Courtesy:ISU Athletics
Ace Hunt



TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Indiana State sophomore Justin Gant recorded his second consecutive double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds and the Sycamores held on late for a 77-75 victory over visiting Illinois State in front of 5,808 fans inside Hulman Center.


The Sycamores improved to 8-4 and 1-0 in MVC play while Illinois State fell to 9-4, 0-1 MVC. Indiana State has won 2-of-3 MVC openers under third-year head coach Greg Lansing.


Gant nearly had his double-double in the first half, but finished by hitting 8-of-13 shots from the field, including a 3-pointer of the first possession of the game to go with 11 rebounds, an assist as well as a blocked shot.


He was one of four Sycamores to reach double figures scoring as Jake Odum had another stellar game all-around with 17 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes of action. Odum was 4-of-5 from the field, including a perfect 2-of-2 mark from 3-point range and was 7-of-8 at the free throw line.


Devonte Brown scored a career-high 12 points off the bench to go with seven rebounds and two assists as well as steal while Manny Arop reached double figures scoring for the seventh consecutive contest with 10 points.


The Sycamores won the battle of the glass by a 46-36 margin. ISU had 17 offensive rebounds in the contest while Illinois State had 13 and second chance points were even at 13-10. Indiana State outscored the Redbirds 38-18 in the paint despite a double-double from Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael who had 13 points and 14 rebounds.


ISU hit 26-of-60 shots from the field (43.3 percent) and limited the Redbirds to just 23-of-62 (37.1 percent), but Illinois State was able to hang around as they made 12 3-pointers in the game, including three each from Tyler Brown and Zeke Upshaw. Nick Zeisloft launched a 3-pointer that narrowly missed at the buzzer as ISU earned the league opening victory.


Indiana State has now won six consecutive games inside Hulman Center against Illinois State and Lansing improved to 4-1 against the 'Birds. ISU is now 13-6 when opening Valley play at home, including a perfect 3-0 mark in the MVC lidlifter against Illinois State at home.


Odum had six assists in the game to give him 355 for his career and moved him into ninth place on the ISU all-time career list.


Carmichael hit a lay-up with 13:04 left in the first half to take a 13-11 lead, but the Sycamores would score the next 11 points of the game, starting with a conventional 3-point play from Arop to push the Sycamores ahead 14-13. Gant scored the final six points of the run by himself as ISU found itself ahead 22-13 with 10:21 left before halftime.


Zeisloft hit a trey with 4:39 remaining in the first half to knot the score at 27 but Gant tipped one in to answer and then Mahurin hit a pair of free throws to stake the Sycamores to a 31-27 advantage. Odum hit a 3-pointer at the 2:34 mark and then drained a pair of free throws with 30 seconds on the clock as ISU finished the first half on a 9-0 run to take a 36-27 lead into the half.


Gant continued his strong play in the second half with a lay-up at the 16:42 mark to put the Sycamores ahead 42-32 before the Redbirds scored the game's next four points to trim the ISU cushion down to just six points. Indiana State responded with the next five points in the game to take a 47-36 lead with 14:59 remaining on a free throw by Brown.


Illinois State was one of the top team's in the MVC on the road in non-conference play and would not fade as they scored five points in a row to get within 58-53 at the 8:24 mark before Odum hit two charity tosses to restore a seven-point advantage.


Brown scored a lay-up with 3:41 left to make it 73-62 in favor of the Sycamores but the Redbirds scored 11 of the game's next 13 points, including a trey by Zeke Upshaw with 34 seconds left to trim the ISU cushion down to 75-73.


Arop would convert 1-of-2 free throws with 30 seconds left to make it 76-73. Bryant Allen answered 12 seconds later with a driving lay-up to make it 76-75 and Gant hit 1-of-2 free throws with seven seconds left to stake ISU to a 77-75 lead.


Zeisloft took a feed from Carmichael and raced down the court where his 3-pointer from the deep left wing was just a bit off to the right and Indiana State held on for the victory.


The Sycamores return to action on Wednesday, January 2 when they travel to Northern Iowa for its first road league game of the season. Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m. (ET) and can be seen live nationally on ESPN3.

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