M bball: Creighton has Saluki blues

By Gus Bode

The SIU men’s basketball team has reversed its fortunes against Creighton after a long losing streak during the 1990s.

The Salukis lost seven games in a row to the rival Bluejays between Jan. 29, 1996 and Dec. 5, 1998. Between 1996 and 2001, Creighton won 10 of 12 against SIU and the Bluejays currently hold a 41-35 series edge.

“They were the ones we wanted to be like,” Saluki coach Chris Lowery said. “They were the ones we wanted to beat so bad.”

Advertisement

SIU has now won eight in a row against the Bluejays with Saturday’s win. The streak began Feb. 7, 2004.

“It’s good to see that this rivalry means so much again between two great programs,” Lowery said. “We totally respect what they do as far as business concerns. They conduct themselves the right way, they recruit the right way, they get kids to play the right way and we totally respect that.”

Creighton and the Salukis last played Jan. 20 in Omaha, Neb., where SIU won on a shot by sophomore guard Bryan Mullins with 4.1 seconds remaining in the game.

The game featured a Missouri Valley Conference record for attendance with 17,459 people on hand.

“We played real well in that game,” Mullins said. “We had a four or five minute span in the second half where they got the lead back but we fought really hard.”

Saturday’s game was a sell-out at the SIU Arena, with 9,628 people in the stands.

“Creighton has a good fan base, Wichita State does, they get a lot of people in,” Saluki senior guard Jamaal Tatum said. “But when you get that many fans in and they’re cheering for you it’s a different story. It’s a great atmosphere to be in and we just want to thank everybody for coming out today and supporting us.”

Advertisement

SIU senior guard Tony Young, who has scored 11.2 points per game in his career against the Bluejays, said having the fans cheering for the Salukis’ side helped them out a lot.

“When we’re down on ourselves and they’re constantly cheering us and picking us back up,” Young said, “it’s like another man out there on the court.”

The game was televised on ESPN2 for Rivalry Week, and the Jan. 20 meeting was broadcast on FOX Sports Net.

Advertisement