Scouting the Redbirds


By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

The Saluki men’s basketball team will get the chance against Illinois State on Tuesday to rebound from Saturday’s 83-58 defeat to Wichita State.

Illinois State (9-8, 3-1) was picked to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference by league sports information directors, media and coaches, and sit in a four-way tie for second place. The Redbirds got their first MVC loss to Indiana State on Saturday.

ISU has yet to record a win against a RPI top-150 team, going 0-7 in those contests. SIU’s RPI is ranked No. 122 coming into the game. 


The Redbirds tested themselves in their non-conference schedule by playing No. 3 Maryland and No. 14 Kentucky, but lost to both by double-digits.

Illinois State is led by All-MVC preseason selection senior guard DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, who averages 15.8 points per game. Akoon-Purcell is likely to go up against Saluki senior guard Anthony Beane (20.6 ppg), making it a potential shooting contest between the two.

Overall, ISU struggles to put the ball in the basket, ranking in the bottom third of Division I in field goal percentage (307th out of 351, 40.8 percent), 3-point field goal percentage (288th, 31.3 percent) and free-throw percentage (335th, 61.3 percent).

ISU wins games with its defense — which has limited opponents to 67.2 points per game — ranking 88th in Division I. SIU averages 76.3 points per game and is 2-2 when scoring 67 or fewer points a game.

The Redbirds force 14.5 turnovers per game, which is the 80th-most in the country. Coupled with SIU’s 13.8 turnovers per game, the matchup may get ugly fast.

Junior guard Paris Lee is also a main contributor for Illinois State, ranking second on the team with 10 points per game. He leads the Redbirds with 3.4 assists per game.

If the Salukis are able to hold on to the ball and take care of business defensively, they should be able to get back in the win column Tuesday at SIU Arena. If not, they could be looking at a second-straight loss after coming into 2016 with two losses total.


Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3304.