Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

African Week celebrates unity and tradition on campus
African Week celebrates unity and tradition on campus
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Salukis stop Redbird rally, win 69-66 in Blackout Cancer Game

Saluki+guard+Xavier+Johnson+%2810%29+handles+the+ball+while+guarded+by+former+Saluki+and+current+Redbird+Dalton+Banks+%283%29+during+their+teams+matchup+Feb.+10%2C+2024+at+Banterra+Center+in+Carbondale%2C+Illinois.
Brandyn Wilcoxen
Saluki guard Xavier Johnson (10) handles the ball while guarded by former Saluki and current Redbird Dalton Banks (3) during their teams’ matchup Feb. 10, 2024 at Banterra Center in Carbondale, Illinois.

At the tail end of what would end up a 14-0 run, an Illinois State Redbird missed a potential game-tying three with just seconds to spare, as the SIU Salukis (16-9, 8-6) escaped with a win.

Xavier Johnson (10) goes up for a layup during his team’s 69-66 win over Illinois State Feb. 10, 2024 at Banterra Center in Carbondale, Illinois. (Brandyn Wilcoxen)

The Salukis defended home court on Saturday night against Illinois State (11-14, 5-9), coming away with a 69-66 win at the Banterra Center.

Xavier Johnson led the team with 17 points and nine assists. Scottie Ebube had 10 points off the bench, and grabbed seven rebounds including four on the offensive end.

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“Didn’t execute as well as we needed to offensively,” Saluki head coach Bryan Mullins said. “Made some big plays down the stretch to get the win and obviously extremely meaningful with the Blackout game.”

The Salukis had a strong first half, taking a double-digit lead during an eight-point run. They were able to keep that distance through halftime, with a first half score of 42-25.

The second half the Salukis played a good 35 minutes of basketball until momentum fell off the last five minutes of the game. SIU was held scoreless as Illinois State went on a 14-0 run, only interrupted by two free throws by Davis with 0.5 seconds left to ice the game.

Scottie Ebube (2) dunks the ball during his team’s 69-66 win over Illinois State Feb. 10, 2024 at Banterra Center in Carbondale, Illinois. (Brandyn Wilcoxen)

“I think Scottie, Jarrett (Hensley), Moo [Kennard Davis Jr.] all contributed big minutes for us [and] were a huge piece of tonight’s success,” Mullins said. “I thought we had really good looks in the second half.”

SIU’s last eight games all have been close, all decided by two possessions or less. Some of those games included double-digit comebacks similar to what happened on Saturday night.

“We continue to battle, continue to stay together,” Johnson said. “You know when it’s hard at this level so we gotta keep fighting and keep staying together.”

Salukis will look to build a streak as it travels to play at Belmont on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. SIU defeated Belmont 73-63 during their first meeting in Carbondale on Jan. 2.

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Jamilah Lewis can be reached at [email protected]. To stay up to date on all your southern Illinois news, be sure to follow The Daily Egyptian on Facebook and @dailyegyptian on X [formerly known as Twitter].

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