Salukis sink Tritons in exhibition game

Salukis sink Tritons in exhibition game

By Tyler Dixon

Two players combined for 50 points, but 3-point shooting was still an issue in the first exhibition game of the Salukis’ season.

Fans got their first look at a revamped roster that featured only five players from last season’s team. The team was able to click at the right time to get the outcome they and the fans wanted, a 71-66 win.

The Salukis held an eight-point halftime lead, edging the Tritons 30-22. With 8:44 remaining in the first half, SIU led 16-14 and never trailed the rest of the game.

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However, University of Missouri-St. Louis would not go down without a fight. Eight points was the biggest deficit they faced all night. The Tritons trailed by three points with 12 seconds left in the game, they attempted a long three-pointer, but did not succeed. The Salukis were able to hit two free throws to ice the game.

The key players for the Salukis came as no surprise. Senior guard and Missouri Valley Conference Preseason All-Conference team selection Desmar Jackson finished with 29 points, 4 rebounds and

3 steals. Jackson was also 13-16 from the free-throw line.

Sophomore guard Anthony Beane had 21 points and 11-12 from the free throw line. Hinson said when the season starts, he needs to let Beane have a break.

“I can’t play Anthony 33 minutes, I mean I can, I did tonight,” Hinson said. “But I don’t want to.”

One of the downfalls of the Salukis last season was the lack of 3-point shooting. Hinson said at SIU’s media day that it could not get worse. The team was 0-11 from 3-point range.

Jackson said he is confident the team can get that part of the game turned around.

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“I wouldn’t say it’s a concern, we have some good shooters,” Jackson said. “The ball wouldn’t go in from 3-point range.”

Seven Salukis got their first taste of Division I basketball against UMSL.

Hinson said the new players did some things well, but they have to improve in other areas.

“Defensively they really struggled, the speed of the game, this level,” Hinson said. “The physical part of this game bothered them, they missed open shots.”

Hinson said the players did not

play like they are used to playing. “Every one of them were one shade off albino, they were scared to death,” Hinson said. “Sean O’Brien was so scared, Bronson Verhines won a national championship and he was scared, and Bola (Olaniyan) bless his heart, he wasn’t even here, he was still in Nigeria.” Verhines said it was everything he thought it would be when he stepped onto the court.

“It was everything I expected, I didn’t play too well I didn’t think, I think a little jitters for this game, but it’s a long season,” he said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement, so I’m just looking forward to getting better.”

Verhines said being in a close game with UMSL would help them for the rest of the season.

“It’s great for us to have that challenge, jumping into the first game,” Verhines said. “We have so many new faces. Getting that experience of going down to the wire can help us in the long run.”

The Salukis did not have much time to prepare for the Tritons, who were not added to the schedule until the day before the game.

Harris-Stowe University was not certified to play and SIU had to find a replacement on short notice. Coach Barry Hinson said he wanted to thank UMSL and its coach, Bob Sundvold, for saving SIU at the last minute. UMSL had a 17-10 record last season and a 10-8 record in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Tritons finished with three players in double figures and were lead by senior guard Femi John,

who finished with 22 points. Hinson said he expected it to be a tough game and the result will help his team in the future.

“Not one thing tonight surprised me,” Hinson said. “If you could have had a one-point win and had to play your tail off, that’s far better than a 20-point blowout.”

Hinson said the team is going to redshirt a player this season and he is using the exhibition games to figure out which player to choose.

“Whomever we decide to redshirt is speaking volumes that we really expect great things out of that player,” Hinson said.

The Salukis final exhibition game is Saturday against William Jewel University at SIU Arena. The team opens the regular season on the road at the University of Missouri Nov. 12.

Tyler Dixon can be reached at [email protected] or 536- 3311 ext. 269.

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