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Scouting the Sycamores

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Scouting the Sycamores

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

Saluki men’s basketball will be back home at 7 p.m. Wednesday to take on the Indiana State Sycamores in hopes of improving to 6-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

The Sycamores are currently fourth in the conference at 4-2, 10-8 overall. If the Dawgs lose, they would fall behind the Sycamores in conference standings. 

This matchup will pit one of the Valley’s top defensive teams against one of the top offensive teams.

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Indiana State has held opponents to 41 percent shooting, while the Salukis go into the game shooting 47.6 percent. Both numbers are the second-best in the conference.

While the Sycamores have been strong defensively, they have also been erratic. Indiana State has committed 394 fouls this season, the third-most in the MVC. However, SIU has committed 415 fouls, the second most in the conference.

This can play into the Salukis’ paws as they have taken the 32nd-most free throws in the country and No. 2 in conference. 

Given the strong defense of the Sycamores and foul-happy nature of both teams, this game could be won at the free-throw line. If it comes to that, Indiana State has a minuscule advantage against SIU with its 69.7 conversion rate compared to SIU’s 68.8 percentage. The two teams shoot a similar number of free throws per game with ISU shooting 23.1 per game and SIU attempting 23.5.

Indiana State’s leading scorer sophomore guard Brenton Scott has come off the bench for half of the Sycamore’s 18 games averaging 15.4 points per game. Scott has started and averaged 19.5 points in the last six games.

He is also dangerous for the Saluki defense as a strong 3-point shooter. His 43.1 3-point field goal percentage is fourth in the MVC.

However, the Salukis have a 3-point sharpshooter of their own in junior guard Tyler Smithpeters, whose 48.5 percent 3-point field goal mark leads the conference. 

Outside of Scott, the Sycamores are led offensively by senior guard Devonte Brown and senior guard/forward Khristian Smith. The duo are second and third on the team with 15.2 and 10.4 points per game, respectively.

Scott, Brown and Smith match up almost identically with the Saluki trio of Anthony Beane, Mike Rodriguez and Sean O’Brien. The two sets could potentially neutralize each other, forcing others to step up.

Look for junior guard Leo Vincent to make his presence felt. He has scored 36 points off the bench in his last two games.

The Sycamore reserves have been a strength for Indiana State with nine players averaging 10 minutes or more per game. Indiana State’s rotating weapons may make things difficult for the Salukis, who struggle to score without Vincent or senior guard Anthony Beane on the floor.

Fans may be in their seats for a while Wednesday as they watch free throws, but the two teams match up well and it could be another grind-it-out-style game.

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3304

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