Purple Aces outlast Salukis

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

SIU men’s basketball jumped out to a quick start Saturday, but ran out of gas against Evansville.

The Salukis (10-17, 3-11) lost 70-61 to the Purple Aces (18-8, 8-6). The Dawgs are in last place in the Missouri Valley Conference.

SIU led 9-2, 3:07 into the game, but that was the largest lead the Dawgs would have all game.


SIU and Evansville played a sloppy first half, combining for 19 personal fouls, 17 turnovers and 20 field goals. The score was stagnant at 14-12 in favor of SIU for more than five minutes as both teams exchanged turnovers and misses.

The Salukis ended the half on a 7-2 run, capped by an off-balance 3-pointer by sophomore guard Tyler Smithpeters, to cut the Purple Aces’ lead to 30-29.

Smithpeters and Evansville junior guard D.J. Balentine finished the first half with 10 points to lead all scorers.

The Salukis led by as many as six points in the second half, but Evansville proved to be too much for SIU.

Balentine, the MVC’s leading scorer, contributed only 5 points in the second half. But the Aces got 10 second-half points from sophomore guard Mislav Brzoja, 11 from senior center Jaylon Moore and 10 from sophomore guard Duane Gibson.

The Aces led for the game’s final 11:03. The teams combined for 29 personal fouls in the second half. Brzoja was the only player to foul out, but three players for each team finished with four personal fouls, one shy of fouling out.

Balentine finished with a game-high 15 points. Brzoja contributed 12, Moore scored 13 and Gibson had 12.


Freshman forward Jordan Caroline led SIU with 13 points and hauled in 15 rebounds for his second straight double-double. It was his third double-double this season.

Smithpeters, freshman guard Deion Lavender and junior guard Anthony Beane all scored 11 for the Salukis.

A hoarse Barry Hinson said after the game his team lacked the desire to win.

“I don’t think we had any energy or enthusiasm to start the game,” Hinson said. “We did get out to a 9-2 lead, but that was all fool’s gold.”

SIU turned the ball over 17 times and recorded 4 assists. Evansville had 15 turnovers but 17 assists.

Hinson only used three bench players, while Evansville coach Marty Simmons used six. The Purple Aces’ bench outscored the Saluki reserves 39-9.

The Salukis play the Wichita State Shockers at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at SIU Arena

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Thomas Donley can be reached [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.