Illinois State overwhelmed SIU 83-47 Saturday in Normal. The loss extends SIU’s losing streak to a season-high six games and is the worst margin of defeat, in the two teams’ history.
Defensively, ISU smothered the Salukis’ all-guard starting line-up. Senior guards Jeff Early and T.J Lindsay accounted for just four points of the SIU offense. Lindsay, who sank three 3-pointers against Drake, failed to connect on his only attempt in the game. Early led the Salukis with 11 rebounds, and four came from the offensive glass.
“Even if you don’t get baskets, you get stops and the other team can’t go on a run,” ISU coach Dan Muller said. “It’s about playing every possession defensively.”
Despite a poor offensive start, SIU trailed by just 12 points at halftime.
Saluki freshman guard Anthony Beane Jr. hit a 3-pointer with 13 minutes left in the game to bring SIU to a 52-40 deficit. However, for coach Barry Hinson and the Salukis, the momentum wouldn’t ride with SIU for long.
During a six-minute window, The Redbirds outscored SIU 12-0 and stretched the lead to 24 points.
Hinson said his team looked flustered and hesitant at times.
“The second half just got away from us, and we had no chance of getting it back,” he said. “There was an eight-minute span where we just went brain dead. Frustration, lack of confidence culminated.”
Junior guard Desmar Jackson came off the Saluki bench and scored 14 points on six of 18 shooting from the field. The junior made two 3-point field goals in limited action and nabbed four rebounds.
“Desmar is pretty good at not being punctual,” Hinson said. “He missed an activity. Not only did he miss one, but he missed three times.”
Sophomore Saluki big man Dantiel Daniels’ scoring was held to just a point in the blowout and missed four free throws. Daniels is still nursing an ankle injury and hasn’t been very productive in recent games.
Hinson said benching the sophomore post man was meant to motivate and energize him.
“I think it’s pretty obvious what I’m trying to do here — I’ve got to find a way to get Dantiel to play,” he said. “He played 15 minutes today and he scored one point and gets one rebound? He’s our tallest player. We have to get something.”
SIU’s offense has struggled lately, and no Saluki has scored more than 20 points in a game since Jackson notched 21 points against Bradley on Jan. 15. Although SIU isn’t a talented 3-point shooting team this season, more than half of the team’s shots were from behind the arc Saturday. The Salukis shot a meager 30 percent from long range this year.
Redbird senior center Jackie Carmichael dominated the post, scored 15 points and snatched 11 rebounds off the boards. The senior also made five of six free-throws as his team shot 80 percent from the free-throw line.
“They are an enigma to me,” Hinson said. “I watch them against other teams, and for whatever reason they really like playing against us.”
The Salukis look to end the six-game skid in a battle Tuesday against Wichita State in the SIU Arena.