Late night shooting helps Salukis regain confidence

By Gus Bode

As the Salukis begin the final month of the regular season, they are focused on not moving faster than their feet will take them.

After a win over Evansville Tuesday night put the SIU men’s basketball team one game out of second place in the Missouri Valley Conference, coach Chris Lowery said he wants the team to take everything step by step.

“Our main focus has to be taking it one game at a time and really just focus on that,” Lowery said.

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The Salukis (11-10, 6-4) travel to Northern Iowa Saturday in search of their second true road victory of the season.

Senior forwards Randal Falker and Matt Shaw have taken the lead for the Salukis after spending most of the season in the shadows of their teammates. The pair has combined for 54 of the team’s 107 total points in Salukis’ past two wins.

Shaw credited late nights in the gym working on his shot to get his offensive game on track.

Sophomore guard Josh Bone said he has also spent more time in the gym along with junior guards Bryan Mullins and Wesley Clemmons.

While senior leadership has moved to the forefront, Mullins hasn’t let his junior status slow him down.

Mullins has recorded 40 assists with only five turnovers in the last seven Saluki games and Lowery said he has been an invaluable asset to the team.

“At this point he’s doing what he needs to be doing, and he’s doing a great job at it,” Lowery said.

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Northern Iowa (12-8, 5-5) comes into Saturday’s game having won its last three out of four games, including a Wednesday night win over Illinois State, 69-61.

Senior center Eric Coleman, a preseason all-conference selection, leads the Panther offense with 12.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

Lowery said Coleman could be the biggest factor for the Panthers.

“He’s a four year starter, a prominent person in the post, a great rebounder and a thorn in our side – definitely at Northern Iowa,” Lowery said.

Sophomore center Jason Eglseder and senior guard Jared Johston both add 10.7 points per game.

Falker said while they have to be aware of the Panther’s offense, the Salukis need to concentrate on playing their game.

“We can’t really worry about what they do or how they do it,” Falker said. “We have to play our game.”

Megan Kramper can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 256 or [email protected]

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