Daily Egyptian

Men’s basketball: Scouting Arkansas, Missouri Southern State, SIUE

Coach+Barry+Hinson+addresses+his+team+Thursday%2C+Nov.+3%2C+2016%2C+during+SIU%27s+72-67+exhibition+win+over+UMSL+at+SIU+Arena.+%28Athena+Chrysanthou+%7C+%40Chrysant1Athena%29+
Coach Barry Hinson addresses his team Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, during SIU's 72-67 exhibition win over UMSL at SIU Arena. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

Coach Barry Hinson addresses his team Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, during SIU's 72-67 exhibition win over UMSL at SIU Arena. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

Coach Barry Hinson addresses his team Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, during SIU's 72-67 exhibition win over UMSL at SIU Arena. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

By Sean Carley

After its tough loss to Wright State to open the season, SIU men’s basketball will face three opponents in five nights this week.

Here’s how this upcoming week looks for the team.

7 p.m. Monday at Arkansas

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Saluki fans wanted a tougher schedule this season and here’s the first step of their wish being granted.

Arkansas basketball is often one of the more forgotten basketball programs in the Southeastern Conference behind the recent successes of Kentucky and Florida, but the Razorbacks were a perennial powerhouse within the last 20 years and won the national championship in 1994. They have made the NCAA tournament 15 times since 1990, most recently in 2014.

The Saluki bigs will have their hands full trying to stop Preseason All-SEC forward Moses Kingsley. The 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward almost averaged a double-double last season with 15.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

However, he was not the only All-SEC selection on the Razorback squad.

Senior guard Dusty Hannahs was a second-team selection after leading the team with 16.5 points per game. He’s also a 3-point specialist, converting on 43.3 percent on his attempts from behind-the-arc last season.

The Razorbacks only game so far this season was closer than they likely wanted, beating Fort Wayne 92-83.

Seven Arkansas players scored in double-figures in that game, and Kingsley was not one of them.

Arkansas has a lot of skill, and this game will likely come down to which version of SIU’s defense shows up Monday. If it’s the first-half Saluki defense, they can hang around with Arkansas. If it’s the second-half Saluki defense, this game can get out of hand very fast.

7 p.m. Wednesday versus Missouri Southern State

Regardless of what happens Monday, the Salukis should have their easiest win Wednesday when Division II Missouri Southern State comes to Carbondale.

The Lions are making noise in the D-II ranks though, coming off a double-overtime victory Saturday against No. 17 Minnesota State-Mankato.

Missouri Southern State’s star so far is someone who the Salukis have seen before: SIU-Edwardsville transfer guard C.J. Carr. He averaged 7.5 points and 3.1 assists per game as a Cougar last season, and hit the game-winning shot to beat SIU at home last season.

This season, however, Carr has averaged 36 points, 7.5 assists, seven steals and six rebounds in two games.

Three other Lions — senior guard J.J. Cratit (18), junior forward L.J. Ross (13.5) and freshman guard Elyjah Clark (13) — are averaging in double-figures.

7 p.m. Friday at SIU-Edwardsville

Carr’s former team will be the final opponent of the week for SIU.

The Salukis will try to avenge last season’s loss to their sister school, the first in program history.

SIUE was picked to finish next-to-last in the Ohio Valley Conference this season, but has experienced a strong start to its season. The Cougars will be fresh with three days of rest after three games in four nights this previous weekend.

As of Sunday afternoon, they have an enigmatic 1-0 record. They lost to D-II McKendree University in an exhibition, but then beat Hawai’i-Mānoa, a team that made the NCAA tournament last year, on its home floor to open the season.

Granted, the Rainbow Warriors lost most of their key players from that tournament team, but are still a strong team.

Last season’s leading scorer — senior guard Burak Eslik — returns this season, one of three starters coming back.

This year’s squad lines up very similarly to the Salukis, with only four players standing 6-foot-8 or taller and a plethora of guards.

Sports editor Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @SCarleyDE.

To stay up to date with all your SIU basketball news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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