Missouri Valley goes 1-3 in NCAA tournament

By Gus Bode

It was long thought by many that the Missouri Valley Conference deserved three teams in the NCAA Tournament. Despite late speculation that it wouldn’t happen, Northern Iowa was granted a surprising at-large bid, joining the Salukis and Creighton in the Big Dance.

Despite the unexpected addition of the Valley’s third-ranked team, hurdling second place Wichita State and its better record, Northern Iowa put up a worthy performance in Oklahoma City against Wisconsin.

The Panthers fell 57-52 to the Badgers, but were within three down the stretch of the closely contested game. Creighton was in position to upset seventh-seeded West Virginia in Cleveland, but a breakaway dunk by Tyrone Sally with 2.4 seconds left gave the Mountaineers the 63-61 victory.


Nate Funk missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game for Creighton.

SIU breaks first round slump

After losing in one-point heartbreakers each of the last two NCAA Tournaments, the Salukis finally got over the first round hump Friday beating Saint Mary’s 65-56. SIU was paced by Stetson Hairston’s 13 points, Matt Shaw’s 12 and Darren Brooks’ 11.

Shaw, along with freshman forward Randal Falker, combined for 20 points and 10 rebounds in the victory.

The most alarming statistic from the contest, and perhaps the most amazing single game feat of the season for the Salukis’ defense, was Saint Mary’s 20 turnovers to go with just three assists. EJ Rowland was the only player to record any assists for the tenth-seeded Gaels.

Sutton praises Brooks, Lowery

Longtime Oklahoma State head coach Eddie Sutton had a few words to say to the Salukis following his team’s 85-77 victory Sunday.


Along with a brief chat with Darren Brooks, telling the Saluki senior guard he plays the game the right way and that he has a shot to play in the NBA, Sutton stopped to chat with head coach Chris Lowery about the Salukis and the first-year coach’s future.

“He said we play how you should play,” Lowery said. “And he said, ‘You’ve got a bright future, young man.'”

SIU recruits play in March, too

While the Salukis were in Oklahoma City playing in the NCAA Tournament, a couple of SIU recruits were wrapped up in their own March Madness experience. Senior SIU recruits Josh Tabb, of Carbondale, and Bryan Mullins, of Downers Grove South, faced each other in the semifinals of the IHSA Class AA state basketball tournament.

Tabb’s Terriers got the better of Mullins’ Mustangs, winning 53-42 to advance to the state championship game. Mullins scored 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting to go with one assist and four steals. Tabb scored four points while grabbing six rebounds, swatting two shots and collecting two steals.

Carbondale lost in the state championship game to Glenbrook North, whose head coach, Dave Weber, is the brother of former SIU men’s basketball head coach and current Illinois coach Bruce Weber.

Young receives stitches in lip

Sophomore guard Tony Young took an elbow to the mouth in Friday’s first round victory against Saint Mary’s, forcing the Salukis’ tenacious defender to receive eight stitches in his lower lip.

Young’s fat lip didn’t keep him off the court in Sunday’s second round loss against the Cowboys, playing 15 minutes, scoring three points and recording one steal. Young also played 15 minutes and scored three points in Friday’s win against Saint Mary’s.

Reporter Adam Soebbing can be reached at [email protected]