Daily Egyptian

Keeping up with Saluki Sports: Here’s what you may have missed

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Coach Barry Hinson celebrates following the Salukis' 80-74 overtime win against the Indiana State Sycamores on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Coach Barry Hinson celebrates following the Salukis' 80-74 overtime win against the Indiana State Sycamores on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Coach Barry Hinson celebrates following the Salukis' 80-74 overtime win against the Indiana State Sycamores on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

By Sean Carley and Jonathan Thompson

While students were away on holiday, Saluki sports didn’t slow down. Here’s what you may have missed during winter break.

Men’s basketball has hot start to conference

The men’s basketball team found a stride during winter break, going 5-3 in the last month.

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The beginning of the Missouri Valley Conference season did not start with a bright outlook following a road loss to Bradley in Peoria, while also losing the team’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Armon Fletcher, because of a foot sprain.

But the team rallied in his absence, winning all three games he missed, including a road win at Missouri State when SIU was nearly double-digit underdogs.

Senior forward Sean O’Brien and senior guard Mike Rodriguez lead the team with 13.7 and 12.2 points per game in MVC contests. O’Brien is also nearly averaging a double-double with 9.2 rebounds.

SIU men’s basketball will travel to Drake on Wednesday and host Northern Iowa at 7 p.m. Saturday during the first week back in class.

Women’s basketball has roller-coaster break

SIU women’s basketball couldn’t find the same consistency as their male counterparts, going 3-5 in the same time period.

After splitting a pair of games at the UMKC Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., the Salukis hit a wall in Missouri Valley play.

SIU won the conference opener against a shorthanded Loyola team, but lost its next three games by at least 15 points each.

The Salukis were able to get back on track with a 23-point victory against Wichita State, but couldn’t keep up the momentum Sunday against Missouri State.

Southern improved its shooting in conference play, but struggled with turnovers, committing 30 more than opposing teams.

SIU’s women have just one contest this week, a 1 p.m. road game Sunday at Evansville.

SIU football picks up Gatorade Player of the Year.

Brandon George, the Oklahoma football Gatorade Player of the Year, announced his commitment to SIU on Jan. 08 over Twitter.

George earned the Gatorade Player of the Year award after throwing for 4,035 yards and 44 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps, leading the Jones High School Longhorns to the 3A state championship. He also rushed for 1,305 yards and 21 touchdowns.

The dual-threat quarterback committed after taking an official visit of the campus. He is rated as a three-star recruit on both 247sports.com and rivals.com.

“I noticed over the [visit] that something very important to them wasn’t how good I was on the field but what kind of person I was off of the football field,” he said in an interview on Jan. 9. “They recruit character, and that meant a lot to me because it showed me that they wanted more than just to win football games but to also see me succeed as a person later on in life.”

SIU returns four quarterbacks from last season, including rising junior Sam Straub, who threw for 1,175 yards and seven touchdowns, starting the final three games of the season.

Track and Field begins indoor season with strong performance at Illini Classic

Even though they were facing Power-5 conference opponents, SIU took home two team top-two performances Saturday at the Illini Classic in Champaign.

The women’s team won the event while the men’s team finished second. Five Salukis registered individual wins throughout the event.

Two of the winners also posted top-five NCAA results. Sophomore Warren Hazel ran the fouth-fastest 400-meter time this year at 47.24 seconds and junior Jared Kern recorded a 60-foot, 10.5-inch toss in shot put, which moved him into fifth in the NCAA ranks.

Senior Freya Block (weight throw), junior Kezia Martin (triple jump), and senior Franklin Adams (long jump) also won their respective events.

SIU will compete next on Friday and Saturday in the Vandy Invite in Nashville, Tenn.

SIU women’s swimming returned to action in commanding fashion in win over Arkansas Little Rock

After one month with no scheduled meets, the SIU women’s team competed against Arkansas Little Rock on Jan. 14.

The Salukis were strong from the start as they won the 400-yard medley relay by a margin of seven seconds.

One of the swimmers from that event, Junior Bryn Hadley, used this momentum and came in 1st in the 1000-yard freestyle.

Hadley finished with a time of 10:02.25, her best time in the event this season.

The Salukis came in first and second spots in the next two events — Lauren Stockton and Jordan Ries in the 200-yard freestyle, and Samantha Parsons and Jessica Peck in the 100-yard breaststroke.

The Dawgs took the top three spots in both the 50-yard freestyle and one-meter diving, adding an extra 32 points to the team. SIU went on to win the rest of the events bring their lead to 224-74 by the end of the meet.

The Salukis look to follow up this success on Jan. 22 at the Butler invite.   

To stay up to date with all your Saluki sports, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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