Daily Egyptian

Saluki’s road record could be tested

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

SIU men’s basketball team has the nation’s third-best winning percentage on the road, but that record could be in jeopardy in the upcoming weeks. 

The Salukis are 8-1 away from Carbondale, but four of the team’s remaining road games are against top-five teams in the Missouri Valley Conference, starting with the Wichita State Shockers at Koch Arena on Wednesday. The Shockers have the nation’s longest home winning streak at 42 games and have sold out their last 40 games.

Wichita State has had 176 straight home games with more than 10,000 fans in attendance and senior guard Ron Baker has never lost at home.

Advertisement

SIU comes into the game after losing two straight, which is the first time this season the team has lost two games in a row. The Wichita State matchup finishes a three-game stretch that junior forward Sean O’Brien said he had circled on his calendar since the beginning of the season.

“I know we want to take it one game at a time, but these three games are a big stretch for us,” he said.

But it gets no easier after this string of games is over.

The next four road games are against teams with a combined home winning percentage of 90 percent. Out of those teams, Indiana State has the lowest average home attendance at 3,657.

{{tncms-asset app=”editorial” id=”22b74eb6-caec-11e5-9e98-1b37bdb8ef3b”}}

The Salukis first true road loss of the season came against the Northern Iowa Panthers (12-11, 4-6 MVC), a team the Salukis beat at home earlier this season. SIU lost a neutral site game against the University of Texas — El Paso on Nov. 27. 

Compared to Wichita, UNI is not as well-rounded of a team, ranking No. 7 in the conference. UNI beat Iowa State and North Carolina when each school was ranked in the top five in the nation so the team is capable of playing well.

Despite UNI’s impressive résumé, the Dawgs’ loss still stings, the team says.

“If we continue to do what we did today, we’re going to destroy all the things we’ve worked for to get to this point,” coach Barry Hinson said after Sunday’s loss. “If this is not a wakeup call for us, then we’re going to have issues.”

That means Wednesday’s game, which will played in front of a hostile crowd, will be a good indication of this team’s ceiling. 

Players new to the program got a taste of playing in front of a full house Jan. 9 when the Shockers came to Carbondale. It was something junior guard Mike Rodriguez said he was ready for.

“When I committed to a Division I school, that’s what I expected — to play in big arenas,” Rodriguez said. “I guess I’ve been waiting for that moment.”

With two games separating the No. 6 and the No. 2 teams in the MVC, the final games of the season are most important. If they want to finish in the top half of the MVC, the Salukis must perform well away from SIU Arena.

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

Advertisement

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The student news site of Southern Illinois University