Tony Wills scored 16 points, Phil Fayne added a clinching layup, and Illinois State finished its first-ever undefeated home record with a 50-46 win over Southern Illinois on Wednesday night.
The win keeps Illinois State (24-5, 16-1) in a first-place tie with Wichita State for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Redbirds will attempt to tie the school record for wins (25) in the season against Northern Iowa on Saturday.
Fayne finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds for Illinois State.
Thik Bol scored 12 points to lead Southern Illinois (15-15, 8-9).
Illinois State held a 48-41 lead with 3:23 left, which the Salukis chipped down to two on a Mike Rodriguez layup with 1:39 to go. Fayne quickly answered with a layup on the other end, however, pushing the Redbirds' lead back to two possessions with what turned out to be the final points of the game.
>>Bradley Beats Missouri State
Luuk van Bree scored 17 points and Bradley secured its first back-to-back wins of the season with a 77-68 victory over Missouri State on Wednesday night.
Bradley earned a split with Missouri State and sits one game behind the Bears for sixth in the Missouri Valley standings with one game to go. The top six earn a first-round bye in the tournament which starts March 2.
Nate Kennell finished with 12 points and eight rebounds and JoJo McGlaston added 11 and six for Bradley (11-19, 6-11). The Braves shot 55.8 percent, won the rebound battle 31-20, and held a 20-8 advantage in assists.
Dequon Miller led Missouri State (16-14, 7-10) with 26 points. The Bears shot 51.1 percent clip, but committed 17 turnovers.
The Bears held a nine-point lead early in the second half. The Braves quickly battled back, taking the lead on a Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye 3 with 12:03 left and led the rest of the way.