Daily Egyptian

Saluki men come back to beat Illinois State

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

SIU men’s basketball got back in the win column Tuesday night in dramatic fashion.

Leo Vincent’s deep 3-pointer with 22 seconds left gave the Salukis (15-3, 4-1 Missouri Valley Conference) the final lead as they topped the Illinois State Redbirds 81-78. The junior guard finished with a career-high 24 points in the game.

“It’s the best win we’ve had all year, by far,” said SIU coach Barry Hinson. “We were all so embarrassed by what happened Saturday [against Wichita State], and we had no confidence going into this game.”

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The Redbirds (9-9, 3-2) took advantage of the lack of confidence to storm out of the gates, shooting 50 percent overall and from 3-point range in the first half.

Illinois State rode its good shooting to a 42-36 halftime lead.

Sophomore MiKyle McIntosh had 22 of the Redbirds’ 42 first-half points. He finished the game with 25 points, besting his previous career high of 20 points. 

“He was a first-rounder in the first half,” Hinson said. “I swear if we crack an egg, we could’ve fried it on his skin — he was so hot.”

The Dawgs shot 37.8 percent from the floor in the first half, getting 10 points from Vincent and nine from junior guard Tyler Smithpeters.

The second half was a different story for the Saluki offense. Despite being down by nine with 7:08 remaining, the team shot 54.5 percent in the second half.

Junior guard Mike Rodriguez scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, one of five Salukis to score in double-digits. 

Hinson said junior forward Sean O’Brien played the best game of his career by putting up 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Vincent kept his first half performance up, scoring 14 points in the final 20 minutes while going 4-4 from behind-the-arc, including the game winner. 

“That’s probably the biggest shot I’ve taken,” he said after the game. “I’ve hit game-winners, before but nothing like this.”

SIU will try to move to 5-1 in conference play Sunday against Drake in Des Moines, Iowa. 

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

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