SIU men’s basketball prepares for challenge

SIU men's basketball prepares for challenge

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

SIU men’s basketball (4-0) begins the Corpus Christi Coastal Challenge against University of Texas El-Paso at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. 

The Salukis began the pre-tournament Campus Site Games with an 81-51 home victory against Florida A&M on Nov. 15. The Dawgs conclude the Campus Site Games against Oakland at 7 p.m. Tuesday at SIU Arena. Campus Site Games are played against teams from the challenge’s other four-team bracket.

Oakland Golden Grizzlies (1-1)

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Coach Barry Hinson said Oakland will be SIU’s toughest challenge of the season so far.

This will be the Golden Grizzlies’ second of their two pre-tournament games after a 95-89 loss against Colorado State on Sunday. 

Oakland senior center Percy Gibson is 6-foot, 9-inches and 270 pounds. In the game against Colorado State, Gibson scored 18 points with nine rebounds.

Senior center Bola Olaniyan will likely match-up with Gibson. Olaniyan is listed as 6-foot, 7-inches and 250 pounds. He averages eight points and eight rebounds per game this season.

Oakland lost in the first round of the Collegeinsider.com Postseason Tournament to Eastern Illinois after finishing with a 16-17 overall record last season. 

Following the game against Oakland, SIU will travel to Corpus Christi, Texas to begin the actual challenge. 

UTEP (3-0)

Last season UTEP finished 22-11 and lost 81-66 in the first round of the NIT tournament to Murray State.

UTEP opened the campus site pre-tournament game play with a 88-66 victory against Alcorn State on Sunday.

Senior guard Earvin Morris scored 18 points against Alcorn. Last season, Morris shot .401 behind the three-point arc and had 56 turnovers in 33 games.

Morris, who is 6-foot, 4-inches, matches up height wise with SIU guards junior Tyler Smithpeters and senior Anthony Beane. 

Portland Pilots (2-2) or Colorado State Rams (4-0)

SIU will play either Portland or Colorado State in its second game of the challenge.

If the Dawgs beat UTEP, they will play the Portland/Colorado State winner in their bracket’s championship game. If they lose, they will play the loser of that game in the third-place game of the bracket. 

Portland beat Abilene Christian 87-57 in their first campus site game Sunday. Its leading scorer junior guard Alec Wintering went three for three in three-point shooting, finishing with 17 points.

Last season, Portland finished 17-16 and lost in the first round of the CIT to Sacramento State 73-66.

Colorado State opened its pre-tournament play with a 95-89 victory against Oakland on Sunday. During the game, the starting five players scored 82 of the Rams 95 points.

Last season, Colorado State finished with a 27-7 record and qualified for the NIT. It lost to South Dakota State 86-76 in the first round.

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @EvanJones_DE

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