SIU men’s basketball beats Murray State in overtime thriller


Saluki coach Barry Hinson celebrates after SIU’s 89-85 win against Murray State on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Sean Carley | @SeanMCarley)

By Jonathan Thompson

SIU narrowly beat Murray State after going into overtime Tuesday night, winning 89-85.

The game came down to the wire as senior forward Sean O’Brien tipped in senior guard Mike Rodriguez’s missed layup, putting SIU (4-3) up 87-85 with 0.8 seconds left.

Murray State senior guard Bryce Jones hit a corner 3-point shot with 5.7 seconds left on the clock, which sent the game into overtime.


The Salukis found themselves in a similar position as last season when they faced Evansville. After Tuesday’s game, Saluki players remembered the moment D.J. Balentine hit a buzzer-beater to extend the game, which the Purple Aces ended up winning.

“We were all thinking when he hit that shot that it’s Evansville all over again,” O’Brien said. “But this time we had a better mindset.”

SIU had four players with double-figures, led by Rodriguez’s team-high 21.

Murray State (3-4) began the game shooting well, making four straight shots. The Racers also made a high percentage of their shots, creating a 13-4 lead. That would be the largest lead of the game.

Southern shot a putrid 1-10 from the 3-point line but outscored Murray State 22-2 in the paint. It was enough to keep the game close and SIU would have a 40-37 halftime lead.

Murray State shot 56.3 percent from behind the arc in the first half.

“You get one or the other,” Saluki coach Barry Hinson said. “We told our guys tonight, we’re not going to let them beat us in the paint. If they’re going to beat us, they’re going to have to beat us from the 3-point line.”


The Racers quickly took the lead at the beginning of the second half, but SIU would steal it back with 16 minutes to go.

That was the last lead Murray State had in the game.

SIU would do a much better job at defending the three in the second half, holding Murray State to 30.8 percent.

Senior guard Jonathan Starks lit up SIU in the second half, scoring 14 points and finding Jones for the game-tying 3-point shot.

Starks would finish with 29 points and eight assist.

“What is it, the guy that said one time, I guarded Michael Jordan and I held him to 35. We guarded Stark tonight. We did a really good job, we held him to 29,” Hinson said. “We did a great job on him the first half. In the second half, he just was going to shoot it every time he touched it.”

Southern will play its next game at 4 p.m. Saturday against Texas Southern back in SIU Arena.

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

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