Daily Egyptian

Men’s basketball: Fletcher, Salukis cut down Indiana State Sycamores

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

Southern (11-11, 4-5 MVC) beat Indiana State (11-10, 3-6 MVC) 88-73 in this year’s Black Out Cancer game at SIU Arena.

“It’s a much needed win, quietest locker room I’ve ever been in in my life after a much needed win,” said Barry Hinson, SIU Head Coach. “It just shows you how much pressure these guys are feeling.”

Southern came into the game losing five out of their last six games after dropping their game to Loyola on Sunday, 75-50.

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Indiana State is coming into the game with a loss on Sunday as well to Illinois State, after defeating Valparaiso last Wednesday.

Historically, the Salukis have won six straight games over the Sycamores – the last five coming by seven digits or less.

Junior guard Eric McGill hit a rebound and then junior guard Aaron Cook took it to the hoop and was fouled, on the inbounds pass senior forward Armon Fletcher made the jumper for the first score of the game.

Cook finished with 14 points and seven assists on the night.

A three-pointer by junior guard Jordan Barnes put Indiana State ahead briefly but Fletcher answered with a three-pointer to knot it back up at 7-7.

Indiana State pushed out to an 12-7 lead after a free throw then McGill scored on a three-pointer to pull Southern back within two.

A block by freshman guard Darius Beane led to a transition bucket by Cook. The transition helped SIU to pull back within one but a jumper by the Sycamores pushed their lead back out to three.

A shot fake by junior forward Bronson Kessinger was enough to avoid the shot block attempt by senior center Thik Bol and it pulled the Indiana State lead back to a 21-18 advantage.

Fletcher put it up, was fouled and made the free throw shot after a media timeout to tie it up 23-23 with 7:47 left in the first half.

Senior guard Sean Lloyd Jr made a layup off a pass by McGill, the Sycamores then turned it over on their next possession which led to a three-pointer by Lloyd to give SIU the 28-23 lead.

McGill finished one rebound shy of a double-double with nine rebounds, and 10 points.

Fletcher was fouled on a layup and he made the resulting free throw for a three-point play to give Southern the 31-27 lead with 4:44 left in the first half.

A steal by Pippen resulted in a transition layup by Cook to further extend the Saluki lead but a foul by McGill ended with two made free throws by Indiana State to put it back within three.

Pippen made a dunk as the last score by Southern in the first half to push out an eight point lead but the Sycamores answered with a layup to cut it to 38-32 and a block by Fletcher helped to keep it that way as the half expired.

“I wanted to help my teammates out, try and save a basket,” Fletcher said. “I didn’t want him to get an easy look at the basket before the [end] of the half.”

Pippen blocked the shot by Indiana State to open the second half and was fouled on the other end. He missed both of his free throw shots.

Pippen opened the scoring in the second half with a dunk, but two made free throws by Indiana State erased the score but a three-pointer by Fletcher pushed Southern back out to a 43-34 lead.

Senior guard Marcus Bartley scored the third three-pointer of  the second half for the Dawgs to push their lead out to 49-37.

Cook passed it to Bol on a drive to the bucket, which resulted in a chance for a three point play as Bol made the layup and was fouled. Bol then missed the free throw attempt as Southern lead 53-41.

Barnes stole the ball from McGill which ended in a layup for him to cut the SIU lead down to 53-46 with 14:11 left in the game.

A 7-0 run by the Sycamores inched them closer but a three-pointer by Fletcher ended the scoring drought for the Dawgs as they lead 56-48.

Beane was fouled on a three point shot and made one of the three free throws,and Indiana State responded with a layup to make it 63-54.

Pippen hauled in a defensive rebound off the three point miss by the Sycamores and then scored on a jumper on the offensive end to extend the Saluki lead to 13. He finished with 12 points, five assists and led the team in steals.

After the game, Hinson recognized the defensive effort by Pippen tonight with four steals and three blocks.

“Best post defense he’s played all year long, didn’t start the game off well defensively. We told him if we didn’t we’d sub him out,” Hinson said. “He took the challenge, came out and played well.”

Fletcher made a three-pointer and two free throws, which resulted in M-V-P chants from the Dawg Pound as he helped to push the SIU lead out to 77-59.

“I was just trying to take advantage of switches, trying to post up smaller guys, and getting different looks on the offensive end,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher made two more free throws but two three-pointers by Indiana State cut into the Southern lead as they lead 81-65 with 3:47 left.

“He was playing hard on both ends of the floor,” Cook said. “A lot of times when you get it going offensively it’s because you started it on the defensive end.”

Cook made one of his two free throws but the Sycamores made both of their free throws on the other end to continue their attempt at cutting the Saluki lead as they lead 82-70 with 1:56 left.

Fletcher made a three-pointer with 47 seconds left to give him his new career high in points at 34, and a layup by McGill ended the scoring as the Salukis came out on top 88-73.

“Every win in the Valley is a big win,” Cook said. “Especially with the race being this close everybody is only a couple games out.”

The Salukis will be back in action on Saturday at Bradley (3-6 MVC) with tip off set for 1 p.m. at Carver Arena in Peoria.

“We haven’t got a win at their place in a couple years,” Fletcher said. “That would be huge for our program to go in there and steal a victory.”

Sports editor Adam Warfel can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Warfel_Adam.

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