Jones, Salukis dominate Evansville for first Valley win

Freashmen+Lance+Jones+moves+the+basketball+around+the+court+during+SIU%E2%80%99s+loss+to+Bradley+during+Arch+Madness+on+Friday%2C+Mar.+6%2C+2020+at+the+Enterprise+Center+in+St.+Louis.+

Jared Treece | @Bisalo

Freashmen Lance Jones moves the basketball around the court during SIU’s loss to Bradley during Arch Madness on Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

Marcus Domask scored his first points of the night on Wednesday with a transition dunk just under three minutes into the second half. Despite the reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week being held scoreless in the first half, his first basket put his team up by 24 points.

Southern Illinois improved to 5-2 on the young season, notching its first conference win in a 80-53 crushing of the Evansville Purple Aces on Wednesday night. The Salukis put up the most points they have since their Nov. 7 opener against Little Rock.

A lot of that production came from senior guard Lance Jones, who fell one assist short of a double-double. His 17 points and nine assists went with six rebounds and six steals to make him the ultimate weapon on the court on Wednesday.

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Overall, the Salukis shot 60.7% from the field, a season-high for the team. They had only crossed the 50% mark on one other occasion, the aforementioned Little Rock game.

“I think we’ve got a good shooting team,” Mullins said. “We haven’t shot the ball that well to start the year, but I was glad to see some of the shots fall for some of the other guys.”

Xavier Johnson and Trent Brown joined Jones in double figures, marking their season highs in points with 14 and 11 respectively. Johnson shot 5-for-6 from the field including 4-for-4 from three-point range, while Brown was a perfect 4-for-4, three of those shots coming from beyond the arc.

Clarence Rupert proved to once again be a powerful presence off the bench, with 12 points on a perfect 6-for-6 performance. Rupert has made his last 11 shots from the floor across the past two and a half games.

Despite not appearing much in the statsheet scoring-wise, Domask provided plenty of opportunities for his teammates. Along with five points of his own, Domask’s seven assists and four rebounds were only topped by Jones on the night.

“That’s what makes Marcus a great player,” Mullins said. “He can impact winning in different ways.”

The Salukis are projected to finish high in the Valley standings, while the Aces seem to be on track for another season at the bottom. Still, any win in the Missouri Valley is a good win, no matter who’s on the other bench.

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“Every game is so hard to win in the Valley,” Mullins said. “To win on the road, it’s extremely important, so I was really proud of our guys’ mindset coming in here.”

Saturday will mark a test for the rejuvenated Saluki squad, as the road trip will bring them to St. Louis to take on the Billikens (6-2). Saint Louis is undefeated at home this year, and beat Tennessee State by 17 on Wednesday – a team that SIU dispatched by a 13-point margin a few weeks ago.

Staff reporter Brandyn Wilcoxen can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BrandynWilcoxen.

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