Salukis roll over Bulldogs

By Gus Bode

INDIANAPOLIS – The SIU men’s basketball team’s game against Butler was a game of firsts for the Salukis and ESPN’s BracketBusters.

SIU entered the game with a 2-14 all-time record in road games against Top 25 teams, its last away win against a ranked opponent being Dec. 19, 1975, at then No. 16 Michigan.

Saturday’s game between the No. 16 Salukis and No. 13 Butler was also the first time in BracketBusters’ five year history that two opposing teams were nationally ranked.


The first half, which SIU escaped leading 30-25, featured five lead changes. The Bulldogs never led by more than one point, though, and the Salukis led the entire second half to hold off the Bulldogs and win, 68-64. SIU also ran its winning streak to nine games.

Saluki junior forward Matt Shaw said it was a case of everybody on SIU (23-5, 13-3) making plays.

In the first half, Saluki freshman guard Joshua Bone hit a mid-range jumper to end a 7-0 Butler run, and all 10 of Jamaal Tatum’s second half points were in the final 5 minutes, 25 seconds.

“JT (Jamaal Tatum) hit some big shots, everybody was making plays – just making big time plays as far as the game goes,” Shaw said, “but we did a great job defensively as well in clutch times.”

Shaw scored 15 points, shooting 4-for-4 from the floor and going 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. He was one of three Salukis to score in double figures – the others were senior guards Tatum and Tony Young.

Tatum finished the game with 20 points, but was scoreless in the second half until the 5:25 mark, when he split a pair of free throws. In the next 1:37 Tatum scored five straight points for SIU on two more free throws and a pull-up jumper from the baseline.

“That’s a pro’s shot,” Lowery said. “He just flinged it in.”


Tatum also had four assists in the win against Butler (24-4, 11-2).

“He was making shots, but the most important thing is everybody who was on the floor was playing very unselfishly offensively. We made the extra pass quite a bit,” Lowery said. “JT always gets a lot of attention because his quickness and his ability to hit pull-ups. I just thought he did a very good job of making sure everybody was in the flow of the game, offensively.”

Young scored 11 points in the contest and said the Salukis fed off the unfriendly Butler crowd.

“It’s just one of those situations as a player, you want to go into there, you want to go into hostile environments to play. It just hypes it up that much more,” Young said. “You can’t let them get to you because a lot of people, if you let the crowd get into it and you let the crowd disrupt what you’re doing it can be a bad thing, but I think as a team we feed off of it and we enjoy it.”

Bulldog junior guard A.J. Graves entered Saturday’s game as Butler’s leading scorer at 17.6 points per game, shooting 37.1 percent on his 3-pointers and with an NCAA Division I-best 96.5 free throw percentage.

Graves, however, was held scoreless in the first half and finished the game with one basket and 2-for-3 from the charity stripe.

“You go against players like that and you hear so much about them and how good and how great they are, there’s always a personal challenge to just go out and want to stop that player from doing what he does normally,” Young said.