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What we learned from SIU’s win against Missouri State

Junior center Bola Olaniyan attempts to grab the ball during SIU’s 78-68 victory against Missouri State on Feb. 27 at SIU Arena. Olaniyan scored 13 points and had 13 rebounds in the game.

Junior center Bola Olaniyan attempts to grab the ball during SIU’s 78-68 victory against Missouri State on Feb. 27 at SIU Arena. Olaniyan scored 13 points and had 13 rebounds in the game.

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

The SIU men’s basketball team finished the regular season with a comeback 78-68 victory over the Missouri State Bears.

Here’s what we learned.

The Salukis are second-half warriors.

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Senior guard Anthony Beane checked out of the ball game after a hard fall on the back of his head. With more than 10 minutes left in the half and still trailing in the score, things looked bleak with the squad’s top scorer on the bench.

In just over two minutes, SIU went on a 12-0 run and led 64-55 with 6:26 left to play, and never relinquished the lead.

SIU shot 60 percent in the second half after shooting 25 percent in the first. In the Salukis’ loss to Illinois State, they shot 20 percent in the first and 41 percent the second. 

The 48 second half points for SIU was the most since the win against Murray State on Dec. 18.

Junior Bola Olaniyan must keep playing well.

Olaniyan earned his sixth double-double this season after a 13-point, 13-rebound performance Saturday.

He had the highest plus/minus of the game, and the Salukis scored 20 more points than the Bears when he was on the court.

During the 12-0 run late in the second half, Olaniyan scored six points. 

If he can give the team an inside presence, the Salukis might be able to win some games during next week’s conference tournament.s

Assists are the key to winning

SIU had 15 assists in the against the Bears. SIU had fewer assists than its 12.3 assists per game in the last nine contests. Junior Sean O’Brien had a career-high eight assists. 

To compete with Northern Iowa on Friday, SIU needs to spread the wealth and get as many players involved in the offense as possible.

O’Brien doesn’t have to score for the Salukis

The second half was an offensive explosion for the Salukis, and one of the most important players on the court didn’t score a basket for his own team. 

O’Brien finished the game with only four points, but pulled in 10 rebounds and dished out eight assists.

He didn’t score for the Salukis, but did score for the Bears on an accidental tip-in on a rebound attempt. 

Seven of his eight assists came in the second half, and was in the middle of all the action. 

The Salukis take on the UNI Panthers March 4 at 2:35 p.m. in St. Louis.

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or at (618)536-3304

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