The most unlikely player on Illinois State's roster produced Saturday's most memorable buzzer-beater.
With 2.8 seconds left and the Redbirds trailing visiting Evansville by one, Jordan Threloff threw a length-of-the-court pass to the left corner in the direction of three Illinois State players. The one who caught it was 6-foot-9 junior Jackie Carmichael, who had missed all three of his career 3-point attempts prior to Saturday but banked in this one as time expired to give his team an improbable 75-73 victory.
"He wasn't supposed to bank it, he was supposed to shoot it straight in, but of course the players never listen to you," a smiling Tim Jankovich told the Peoria Journal Star. "The ball was bobbled, so the play was off at that point. What an amazing shot. What an amazing athletic shot."
Carmichael, Illinois State's top big man, readily admitted the play did not work the way it was intended. Nonetheless, he'll take it since it kept the Redbirds (11-4, 3-1) in a first-place tie with Creighton, Wichita State and Missouri State atop the always-balanced Missouri Valley Conference.
The Redbirds, picked to finish in the lower half of the league, are the most surprising member of that first-place quartet. With more good fortune like Saturday, maybe they'll stay in the hunt.