On a cold night SIU was hot and burned the Sycamores’ chances of going to 8-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference trouncing the number two team 79-60.
“It’s been well documented that I’ve gotten after these guys after losses,” Coach Barry Hinson said. “I want to tell you how proud I am of them tonight.”
After dropping three straight conferences games, the Salukis (7-15, 3-6) were able to regroup against Indiana State University (16-5, 7-2).
For the second consecutive game, Hinson started three freshmen, this time with a different outcome than Saturday’s loss to Missouri State.
The Sycamores grabbed an early 5-0 lead but the Salukis scored the next six points and never looked back.
Of the four Salukis scoring in double digits, sophomore guard Anthony Beane had 22 with 16 coming in the second half.
Senior guard Desmar Jackson sat for most of the first half after picking up two fouls early in the game.
“It was mainly just to get stop,” Beane said. “Because we knew once the second half came, Dez is going to be back in we’re going to be good after that.”
Despite his lack of minutes on the court, Jackson was the second highest scoring Saluki with 16 points. Jackson picked up his second foul early in the first half but the Salukis continued to put point on the board without their leading scorer on the court.
“I think that’s why you got smile about the future around here because I know what everybody is saying because we’ve said it,” Hinson said. “What are we going to do when we lose 20 points a game?”
Two freshmen finished with double-doubles. Bola Olaniyan finished with 12 rebounds and added 12 points. Sean O’Brien grabbed 12 rebounds and had 11 points for a double-double.
The Sycamores faced their biggest deficit of the game with 7:23 left. They trailed by 23 but were still in the game until they started to foul the Salukis to try and extend the game.
Free throw shooting has been the Achilles heel for the Salukis this season but they were able to hit them toward the end of the game to get the win.
SIU converted 25 of 38 free throws in the game while Indiana State only made 22 trips to the line, making 11. Jackson and Beane each hit key free throws down the stretch to help put the game out of reach.
Hinson said this was not the biggest win of the season despite Indiana State being highly ranked in the MVC.
“I think the big game is 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon, because we can play good for one game,” Hinson said. “We can’t play good for two games because we’re too cool for school.”
SIU will play Loyola University Chicago Saturday at the arena. The Salukis beat the Ramblers 71-67 Jan. 8 in Chicago.
Tyler Dixon can be reached at email@example.com, @tdixon_de or 536-3311 ext. 259.