SIU men’s basketball blows out Missouri Southern for first win of season

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Ryan Michalesko

Senior guard Mike Rodriguez (1) goes for a basket Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, during the Salukis' 85-64 win over the Missouri Southern Lions at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

By Jonathan Thompson

Even though it wasn’t against a Division I team, SIU men’s basketball has a win.

The Salukis defeated Divison II Missouri Southern State on Wednesday by a score of 85-64.

The team had five players in double-digits, led by senior forward Sean O’Brien’s 19 point-10 rebound double-double.

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Junior forward Thik Bol also had a double-double — his first as a Saluki — with 10 points and a team-high 17 rebounds.

“Tonight we got a glimpse of Thik Bol,” SIU coach Barry Hinson said. “I looked up on one of the last dunks. Guy like me, old with silver hair, he goes ‘Wow,’ and I go ‘Yup.'”

O’Brien said this game would be big for the Salukis’ confidence and a learning experience for the rest of the season.

“For some of the guys who are new to Division I basketball, it’s good for them to experience a win,” he said. “It’s good for the whole team to get some mojo going.”

Both teams played a sloppy brand of basketball, combining for 12 turnovers each and 16 fouls a piece before the half.

Of the 10 Salukis to touch the floor, only sophomore forward Austin Weiher didn’t have a foul in the game.

Weiher broke out his offense and had his best game so far this season with 12 points on 4-5 shooting.

SIU’s 85 points marks the second time in three games the Dawgs have eclipsed 80 points.

“We can score,” Hinson said. “That’s not our problem. Our problem is can we get our butts down in a defensive stance and can we block out.”

The Saluki defense bothered Missouri Southern, keeping it to 23.1 percent from the field and 9.1 percent from deep. Its 50 percent mark from the free throw line also didn’t do them any favors.

SIU didn’t hit a 3-point shot until sophomore guard Armon Fletcher made one in the second half. He finished with 14 points and three rebounds.

They would finish the game shooting 3-9 from behind the arc.

Head coach Barry Hinson reacts to a play Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, during the Salukis' 85-64 win over the Missouri Southern Lions at the SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Head coach Barry Hinson reacts to a play Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, during the Salukis’ 85-64 win over the Missouri Southern Lions at the SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

The Dawgs went on a 20-0 run with about 10 minutes to go in the second half, which extended their lead to 36 points.

That would be the game-sealing run from which Missouri Southern State couldn’t recover.

The Lions clawed back a bit at the end with a 14-3 run after SIU put in its reserves.

The Salukis will play at 7 p.m. Friday against SIU-Edwardsville on the road after losing to the Cougars for the first time ever last season.

“This game is payback,” O’Brien said. “That’s one of the most important games to me this year. That wasn’t a fun time losing to them last year, so we’re going to come in and play.”

Staff writer Jonathan Thompson can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @TheReal_Jt3.

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

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