Jones, D’Amico lead Salukis past Missouri State to maintain Valley lead


Lylee Gibbs @lyleegibbsphotography

Lance Jones (5) dribbles the ball around the corner past guarding Chance Moore of Missouri State Feb. 5, 2022 at Banterra Center in Carbondale, Ill.

Saluki men’s basketball snapped its two-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon, scoring a 73-53 win over the Missouri State Bears (12-12, 8-6) in its return to the Banterra Center.

Since their last game in Carbondale, the Salukis had suffered back-to-back losses to Illinois State and Bradley during a road trip upstate. They responded with one of their best performances of the season in terms of both scoring and margin of victory.

“These guys love playing here, and they love playing in front of this community,” Mullins said. “They were excited to be back home.”


Leading the team in scoring was Lance Jones, who finished with 18 points to go with four steals, three assists, two rebounds and a block. Jones struggled to start the game, missing his first five shots and only first scoring with less than 30 seconds left in the first half.

However, Jones responded with back-to-back threes to start the second half, en route to a 16-point period that helped the Salukis put away the Bears.

“Coach Pat [Monaghan] told me, just stay confident, have confidence in your shot and they’ll fall,” Jones said.

Troy D’Amico had a career day, having already tallied a career-high in points after playing just six minutes. He finished with 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and was a rallying point for the Saluki faithful.

At one point, D’Amico was responsible for 10-straight of Southern’s points, helping to flip the lead permanently in SIU’s favor. Making basket after basket, the crowd came to life every time the ball touched his hands.

“The fans were great tonight,” D’Amico said. “The fans have been great all season. It’s incredibly fun to play in front of… It really feels like a home environment.”

D’Amico’s performance, particularly in the first half, garnered standing ovations from a crowd of 5,800 at the Banterra Center. For a Sunday afternoon and a team coming off back-to-back losses, that turnout showed a lot about the passion of the fanbase.


“I’ve said it from day one. That’s what’s so special about this place,” Mullins said. “That’s the separator for our program compared to a lot of other programs, is the community and the fanbase and how much support they give us.”

The scoring didn’t stop with Jones and D’Amico. In fact, every player with significant minutes on Sunday ended the afternoon with points, as well as other contributions to the team’s overall success.

“I thought JD [Muila] had a heck of a game. I thought Trent [Brown] came in and gave us great minutes. Troy [D’Amico], probably one of his best games in an SIU jersey,” Mullins said. “That’s been our strength all year, is different guys stepping up when we need them to.”

SIU’s typical leading scorer Marcus Domask ended his day with 12 points to go along with seven assists, four steals and four rebounds.

The biggest differences in this game came from the turnover margin. Southern Illinois won that battle 16-9, and converted them into 26 points to Missouri State’s five. The Salukis also had 20 assists to Missouri State’s seven.

“If we do that, we’re gonna be in a lot of games, and have pretty good results,” Mullins said. “If we can continue to share the ball, and obviously the biggest thing we’ve talked about is take care of the ball, then we’ve been able to have successful results.”

The win was crucial for SIU, as it put the team back into a four-way tie for first place in the Valley. The Salukis join Drake, Belmont, and Bradley at 10-4 in conference play.

“We’ve got to take it game by game,” Mullins said. “We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us on Wednesday, and we’ve got to continue to protect home court.”

Southern will host UIC (10-15, 2-12) on Wednesday night to wrap up its penultimate homestand, before hitting the road on Saturday to take on Valley co-leader Drake (19-6, 10-4).

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

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