Jan. 4, 2012
By Tom Weber
PEORIA, Ill. - All 11 players scored for Southern Illinois in its 74-65 win over Bradley, yet it was Mamadou Seck with 15 points, 11 rebounds and six assists who was the difference-maker in a hotly contested game Wednesday night.
In a span of 30 seconds the senior forward hit back-to-back driving layups to push SIU's lead from five points to a 68-59 advantage with 3:45 remaining in the game.
"When it mattered, he just took over and made big-time plays on both ends of the floor," said Bradley head coach Geno Ford. "On the offensive end, he was a man. He dominated us with his passing and with his scoring."
The Salukis (5-9, 2-1), who moved into a tie atop the Missouri Valley Conference standings with the win, continued their hot-shooting ways. After making 51 percent from the field last Sunday against Illinois State, they made 57 percent against the Braves (5-10, 0-3).
At first, Southern's offense looked shaky, as it missed eight of its first nine shots. Then Seck got a put-back and hit a jumper, and the O started rolling. The Salukis finished the half by making 16 of their last 19 shots and ending the half at 63 percent from the field.
"We missed probably four layups out of our first five possessions, and when you do that, it usually deflates a team, but we're getting better mentally," said SIU head coach Chris Lowery. "Our shot selection was very good against the zone. We really worked it and didn't take quick threes right away."
Still, the Salukis led just 36-34 at the break because Bradley's fast-breaking offense was able to keep pace.
"Dyricus Simms-Edwards, Taylor Brown and Walt Lemon are very hard to guard off the bounce," said Lowery. "I thought we did a much better job in the second half."
As well as Seck played, there were key performances by his supporting cast. Sophomore center Davante Drinkard had a career-high 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field.
"He's made strides," Lowery said. "He wasn't in foul trouble. He usually has two or three in the first half and gets one early in the second."
Point guard Kendal Brown-Surles, who made his third-straight start, was a steady hand at the wheel of SIU's attack. He scored 12 points and had three assists.
"Kendal did a great job running the team and he made shots," Lowery said. "He made sure guys were in the right place."
Backup point guard Kourtney Goff played just 13 minutes, but he had five assists and no turnovers. The Salukis had a season-high 20 assists and their 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio was also a season-best.
"Our motion is better, we're getting better movement, we're getting guys open, we're looking for cutters, our bigs are getting into high-low situations," explained Lowery. "We're doing a better job of trying to play-make for each other."
After seeing no playing time against Illinois State, senior guard Justin Bocot came off the bench four minutes into the second half and never left the floor again. He finished with four points and had four assists with no turnovers. Bocot was instrumental in sparking a 12-2 run that broke SIU free from a 46-46 tie.
"He made plays for other people," Lowery said. "I just wanted to see what he would do in that situation. The things he did are the things our young guys needed to see. They needed to see how it was run right, and that was probably more important than anything."
In the end, though, it was Seck who delivered the money plays. The team leader in scoring, rebounding and assists recorded his fourth double-double of the season.
"They do a good job playing through him and we had no answer," Ford said. "There wasn't anybody at all on our team that could guard him."