Daily Egyptian

What we learned from SIU’s win against Bradley

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

The Salukis (21-7, 10-5 Missouri Valley Conference) earned a rough victory against Bradley on Wednesday. Here’s what fans can take away from the game:

1. Anthony Beane can be shut down…

But when he does get shut down, the rest of the team is capable of picking up the slack. Senior guard Anthony Beane started out 0-12 from the floor, missing multiple layups and coming up short on a dunk.

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Bradley double-teamed Beane on ball screens, limiting his ability to get open looks.

Like he did when junior center Bola Olaniyan was suspended in early December, junior forward Sean O’Brien made up for Beane’s lack of production with 24 points on 11-13 shooting.  

Olaniyan was available this time around and contributed alongside O’Brien, recording his fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

MORE: SIU-Bradley recap | Photos from SIU-Bradley

Even junior guard Mike Rodriguez broke out of his scoring slump putting up 14 points — his first double-digit total in seven games.

Coach Barry Hinson has repeatedly said throughout the season that the team is gelling together, and its output Wednesday showed that.

2. Tyler Smithpeters is capable of being a lockdown defender.

Wednesday served as the third consecutive game where junior guard Tyler Smithpeters has drawn the assignment of guarding the opponent’s best player.

He split time between freshman guards Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye and Ronnie Suggs. Those two shot a combined 4-17 for 12 points. Lautier-Ogunleye and Suggs came into the game as two of Bradley’s top three scorers, combining to average 17.7 points per game.

The two games before, the Harrisburg native limited Indiana State’s Devonte Brown to 4-11 shooting and Drake’s Reed Timmer to 4-12 shooting.

Smithpeters said he could have never imagined he’d become a lockdown defender, but it appears it’s becoming a reality.

3. The Saluki bench has gone cold. 

Junior guard Leo Vincent was the only Saluki to come off the bench and score Wednesday, pouring in eight points.

Freshman guard Armon Fletcher was the only other person off the bench to take a shot. 

In the last five games, the Saluki bench has averaged 12.8 points per game. In the previous 23, the bench averaged 21.2 points.

Vincent scored the most points Wednesday since Jan. 28 against Evansville, which is a sign of life off the bench.

However, if the Salukis want to make a run in the Missouri Valley Tournament, they’ll have to get more consistent production off the bench.

4. Bradley is an improving, young team.

The Braves are the youngest team in Division I. Only one non-freshman, sophomore forward Donte Thomas, played for Bradley on Wednesday. 

As can be expected with a young team, the Braves performed much better in their second game against the Salukis.

Last time these two teams played, SIU shot 48.1 percent from the floor. This time, SIU shot 41.5 percent.

“To have this team, with as many losses as we have, and to see our team compete like that at the end of the year,” Bradley coach Brian Wardle said. “I challenge other coaches to see how much of a challenge it is to do that.”

Even Hinson was complimentary of Bradley’s progress.

“I see the future of Bradley basketball,” he said. “They have 10 freshmen out there and man, they never quit.”

It appears the Braves have the pieces in place to return to the success they had in the late 2000s when they made the NCAA tournament once and other postseason tournaments three times.

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3306

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