M bball: SIU rides senior leadership

By Gus Bode

SIU didn’t start out well in its game against the Redbirds, but Tony Young and Jamaal Tatum weren’t going to stand for it.

Tatum said the Salukis didn’t come out ready to play in the first half, which ended with SIU trailing, 31-25. He and Young told the team they shouldn’t expect to win just because SIU was playing at home.

“We knew what we had to do,” Tatum said. “We had to pick the intensity level up and I think everyone knew that.

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“It wasn’t much we needed to say, really; it was almost like we were preaching to the choir because everyone knew.”

Tatum said he and Young try to be a combination of vocal leaders as well as players who lead by example, which Tatum thought worked well in the Salukis’ 73-62 win against Illinois State.

Young and Tatum scored eight and five points, respectively, in the first half, when Tatum shot 2-for-7 from the field.

Tatum hit five of his eight second half shots and finished the game with 22 points, while Young scored 16 points in the game.

“They shot lights out – terrific. They kept us in the game,” junior forward Randal Falker said. “But that’s what we expect them to do. That’s what they’ve been doing since the beginning of time.”

SIU coach Chris Lowery has said the Salukis rely on the leadership from Young and Tatum, who are both senior guards. Lowery said the duo had control of Saturday’s win against Illinois State, calling plays for Falker when he started to play well.

“Our seniors are really – they’re just growing up and they made all the right calls,” Lowery said. “Tony Young threw some fantastic passes to Randal where nobody else could catch them but him.”

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Lowery said he could see it in Young and Tatum’s eyes that they really wanted to come out with the win once the Salukis took the lead.

Both players set up Falker in the low blocks numerous times for baskets and Young knotted the game at 16-16 in the first half with a jumper. He also gave SIU its first lead, 22-21, with a three-pointer at the 6:22 mark in the first half.

Tatum hit four of his five threes in the second half, including one to give the Salukis a nine point lead, their biggest of the night to that point, with 1:15 to play.

“They made big shots and they were very good,” Lowery said. “Those two guys really wanted to win and they kept telling those guys we better do anything to win.”

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