Salukis take on torrid Tigers

By Gus Bode

Salukis take on torrid Tigers

SIU men’s basketball team to face red-hot Missouri in Indianapolis

The Missouri men’s basketball team’s 21-10 record is not one that will cause an opposing squad to cower in fear and hop in bed with its parents at first – but its athleticism and multitude of scoring options quickly can.


That is why the SIU men’s basketball team must be weary of having a defensive lapse against the sixth-seeded Tigers, who have three players average over 15 points per game, on Thursday night in Indianapolis.

Leading the Missouri attack is junior Rickey Paulding who torches opposing defenses for 17 points a contest. Paulding, who is revered as a dynamic athlete and slasher, also has the ability to nail the three-point shot as his 38 percent (64 of168) suggests. He also stands at a muscular 6-feet-5 and 212 pounds, making him a difficult body with which to match up.

He is joined by former junior-college standout Ricky Clemons. Clemons, a Junior College All-American at the College of South Idaho last season, uses his water-bug quickness and scorer’s mentality to score 15.2 a contest to go along with 3.8 assists.

But making this team just a perimeter team would be too easy on the Salukis, and the Tigers have an imposing inside force in their 6-foot-9 265-pound big man Arthur Johnson. Loaded with an arsenal of polished moves and superior touch, Johnson tossed in 15.3 and pulled down an amazing 9.2 rebounds a contest.

Johnson has a solid inside mate in former McDonalds’ All-American Travon Bryant. Bryant, who shed much unneeded weight from last season to alter his size to 6-feet-9 and 236 pounds, provides 9.2 points and 6.1 rebounds 25.5 minutes of play.

An X-factor for Missouri is freshman combo guard Jimmy McKinney. McKinney averages 8.8 points, but he has the ability to explode for superb numbers. He is far ahead of his years on the court as his 101-60 turnover-to-assist ratio proves and is also used to winning. He led his (St. Louis) Vashon squad to a 107-10 record over his high school career and ended last season at No. 3 in the USA Today national prep poll.

But the Tigers’ bench is nothing more than average. The highest scoring average coming off the pine for Missouri is from junior Josh Kroenke with a 3.3 point per game average. The next highest is the 2.3 points per game mark from Kevin Young.


Reporter Zack Creglow can be reached at [email protected]