What we learned from SIU’s loss to Wichita State


By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

Saluki men’s basketball was riding a six-game win streak before losing 83-58 Saturday to Wichita State. Here’s what to take away from the loss:

1. The Valley championship still runs through Wichita.

After Wichita State’s injury-riddled 3-4 start, many Missouri Valley Conference fans were wondering if the team was as strong as predicted.


Today’s game showed doubters this year’s Shocker team (10-5) is still the one to beat in the Valley. This victory gave the team eight wins in their last nine contests since senior guard Fred VanVleet returned to the court. 

MORE HOOPS: Photos from WSU-SIU | Salukis fall hard

Off to a 4-0 start in conference play with wins over SIU and Evansville on the road, Wichita State has separated itself from the rest of the field.

2. Ron Baker is good at basketball. 

Baker made an excellent case for MVC Player of the Year with his performance against SIU. 

Eighteen points on only 11 shots plus five rebounds is an impressive stat line for any player. It’s even more impressive when the numbers come almost exclusively in one half. Baker played just 10 minutes and took four shots in the second half.

The timeliness of scoring was perhaps the most impressive part. He scored five of Wichita’s first six points to spur an early lead the Shockers would never relinquish. Three other times he stopped SIU runs to seize any momentum the Salukis may have had.


3. Southern Illinois is hungry for a winner.

Saluki head coach Barry Hinson said he asked the community for a favor and it responded.

Saturday’s game was the 25th sellout in SIU Arena history, and the crowd was energetic at tipoff of the game. More than 8,000 strong came out and tried to rally the team despite a poor start for the Dawgs.

Hinson said he had never been prouder of the region than when he stepped onto the floor to open the game. 

In the second half, that enthusiasm was gone. With eight minutes left, a sizable part of the crowd made its way to the exits. 

Despite the early exit, the community showed they’re ready to back this team.

4. The Salukis’ limited size has caught up with them.

Despite Hinson’s saying rebounding would be an issue for SIU earlier this year, the Dawgs held a plus-37 rebounding margin coming into Saturday’s contest. Not anymore.

The Shockers outrebounded the Salukis 40-25, including a 15-to-9 margin on the offensive glass. Shocker guard Fred VanVleet led all players with 12 rebounds at 6-foot-1.

“We got outrebounded by 15,” Hinson said. “We got outrebounded by 11 in the first half, that’s hard to do. They just whooped us.”

Needless to say, the Salukis will not win many more games if this trend keeps up.

5. The Dawgs’ outside shooting is in a slump.

The Salukis shot 1-6 from 3-point range in the second half against Bradley on Wednesday night. They followed that performance with a 1-11 effort in Saturday’s game. 

“They took us off our game,” Hinson said. “Good shooting teams go off of confidence, and we didn’t have it.”

Shooting below 10 percent in any facet of the game typically does not lead to success.

The Saluki offense attempted the second-most 3-pointers in the MVC coming into the game and made 38 percent of them. Those numbers alone show the significance of the long-ball in their offense.

If that cold shooting doesn’t turn around in a hurry, it will be tough to win conference games moving forward. 

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