Daily Egyptian

SIU Arena nears sellout as Shockers come to town

By Tyler Davis, @TDavis_DE

In its 51-year history, SIU Arena has been sold out just 24 times for men’s basketball. Barry Hinson and the rest of Saluki Athletics are hoping Saturday’s matchup versus the Wichita State Shockers will become No. 25.

Less than 300 tickets remain for the highly anticipated 3 p.m. game between two teams that are 3-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play. Brian Clark, assistant athletic director for marketing, said a “couple thousand” rally towels will be given out and all fans are encouraged to wear maroon.

“SIU Arena is going to be electric,” Clark said. “We’re expecting a sellout. I know we’re getting close as of [Friday]. It’s going to be one of those memorable sports moments at SIU Arena.”

Advertisement

SIU basketball (14-2) will try to start its conference season 4-0 for the first time since 2005-06, while the Shockers (9-5) have won seven of their last eight games.

SIU Arena holds 8,339. The Dawgs haven’t sold out SIU Arena since March 1, 2014 against Illinois State; they didn’t disappoint that night, winning 66-65 on a 3-pointer from Tyler Smithpeters with less than 10 seconds remaining.

Fans are hoping for a similar show tomorrow, which would give SIU just its third win versus Wichita State this decade. The other victories came Feb. 5, 2013 at home and Feb. 8, 2011 in Wichita, Kan.

“The team on top of the Valley is and always has been over the last few years is the team that is coming into our gym on Saturday,” Hinson said Friday. “Wichita State is still on top of the perch. They are the top bird.”

Hinson also said this is the most excitement he has seen before a game since coming to SIU in 2012.

“This crowd will not affect [WSU],” he said. “They play in front of sold-out crowds at home and everywhere they play on the road. The challenge for us is how we handle the crowd.”

With a team full of junior college transfers and upperclassmen, the team appears more ready than in years past. 

“It’s the perfect formula for an exciting afternoon of basketball,” said Tom Weber, associate athletic director for communications. “You have two teams in first place, you’ve got a Saluki fan base that’s hungry for a successful team. You know, we haven’t had a winning team here since 2008, so I think there’s a lot of building excitement that maybe this is the team that could get back to the glory days of Saluki basketball.”

Weber encouraged students to show up to give the Shockers a true road team experience. Wichita State is known for having raucous crowds on the road and at Charles Koch Arena in Kansas. 

“I expect that when there’s a packed house, there will be a lot of energy in the building,” Weber said. “It should be an exciting day. If you don’t have your ticket, you should hurry up and get it before they’re gone.”

The west lobby doors in the arena will open for students at 1:30 p.m., Weber said, to give fans a chance to pack the Dawg Pound. All other fans can enter an hour before tipoff. 

Clark said $10 ticket rate will also give people an incentive to come in. 

Saluki fans might have to get used to the full house, Weber said.

“You certainly hope that the foundation is being laid for a successful season,” he said. “You don’t want to make any guarantees or promises. The team is going to go out and play its best and let the chips fall where they may, and let the better team win. That’s how you approach each game.”

Tyler Davis can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @TDavis_DE.

Advertisement

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The student news site of Southern Illinois University