Salukis lose to Western Kentucky with Bocot benched

By Gus Bode

Early scores 11 in Bocot’s absence

SIU started with a bang, but couldn’t keep up with Western Kentucky down the stretch and lost 62-55.

“Our young guys, they played like freshman today. That was a big part of it,” coach Chris Lowery said. “We struggled a little bit, but we can’t have 19 turnovers. I thought we played hard, but we had way too many miscues on offense. We did a lot of things that hurt ourselves.”

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Before the game, news came that senior guard Justin Bocot would sit out during the game because he is under investigation for an alleged sexual assault that occurred Saturday morning. Junior guard Jeff Early started in place of Bocot and had 13 points and four rebounds.

Senior forward Mamadou Seck blocks a shot Wednesday during a game against Western Kentucky University at the SIU Arena. The Salukis are 1-4 on the season and face Western Michigan University Sunday in Kalamazoo, Mich. Isaac Smith | Daily Egyptian

“Obviously, this was the type of game for Bocot to excel at. It was an up and down, run and jump game, and he wasn’t available,” Lowery said. “We’re not going to make excuses for that.”

With Bocot’s suspension and freshman Dantiel Daniels still out with a pulled groin, SIU only had four players coming off the bench.

“It’s kind of tough, because me, personally, I had to cover a guy that was a bang-up guy. You have to move your body every time and it makes you tired more,” senior forward Mamadou Seck said. “As I said, we fell a little bit short because we didn’t have enough bodies to change defense and subs.”

SIU (1-4) went on a 8-2 run to start the game, but then Western Kentucky (4-6) came back with a 10-0 run of their own to take the lead with 12:15 left in the first half.

“That was our biggest thing. We lost our focus because we gave up two transition threes and two lay-ups during that whole segment where we had done a good, solid job defensively,” Lowery said.

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The Salukis took the lead back on a jumper by Early with 18:15 left in the second half to make the score 31-30, but Western Kentucky would take the lead back with 14:33 left in the second on a jumper from WKU guard Jamal Crook to make the score 37-35.

After junior guard T.J. Lindsay tied the game up at 37 apiece, WKU forward George Gant hit a jumper in the post to take a lead they would not give up.

The win gives Western Kentucky the edge in the all-time series against SIU 15-14, and it was the first victory for the Hilltoppers in Carbondale in their last five visits.

“I told the guys that the last time we won in here, I was playing for a high school championship in 1988,” Western Kentucky head coach Ken McDonald said. “To come in here and execute down the stretch, after (SIU) started off the second half and established the inside game, I thought (our) guys did terrific.”

Seck finished with a career-high 20 points and seven assists to go along with seven rebounds, but got his fourth foul with 6:11 left to go in the game, so he played sparingly as the game wound down.

“Mamadou was very good. He probably should’ve had ten assists, we missed some bunnies,” Lowery said. “We gave ourselves opportunities, but when you miss layups and then they get a chance and go down and score, it kind of deflates yourself a little bit.”

Freshman point guard Josh Swan hit a snag as he turned the ball over seven times while not recording a single assist. He finished the game with six points and eight rebounds.

“He’s got to keep playing. This is his first high-turnover game, and they went after him,” Lowery said.

Sophomore guard Diamond Taylor cooled off with a 1-6 showing from the field, only scoring two points. As a team, the only person to hit a three was junior guard T.J. Lindsay, who finished with 10 points.

Lindsay and Early accounted for 23 of SIU’s 55 points in Bocot’s absence, and Lowery said the situation didn‘t distract his team in the loss.

“It becomes a distraction when it’s out there. That’s what makes it a distraction, not to us, but to fans and everybody around our guys,” Lowery said. “We have our guys in a cubby hole, pinned in, where we’re able to control their environment.”

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