Jan. 8, 2014
By Tom Weber
CHICAGO, Ill. - Desmar Jackson dominated on both ends of the court on Wednesday night, scoring a career-high 31 points, while adding six assists and four steals to lift Southern Illinois past Loyola-Chicago, 71-67, as SIU won its first road game in six tries this season.
The Salukis (5-11, 1-2) trailed 67-65 with a minute remaining, but twice the Loyola defense converged to stop Jackson, and twice he found Jalen Pendleton slipping to the basket for easy layups. The game-winner came with 5.8 seconds remaining.
"He had a big-time, All-League performance," said Loyola head coach Porter Moser. "He made the big shot and he made the big pass -- just a tremendous performance by Desmar Jackson."
Loyola had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Milton Doyle missed two free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining, and Jackson iced the victory with two free throws of his own.
The Ramblers (6-9, 1-2) shot 55 percent from the field but turned the ball over 17 times against SIU's zone defense. Operating from the top of the 2-3 zone, the 6-foot-5 Jackson constantly harassed Loyola's guards. The starting combo of Jeff White and Doyle combined to commit 12 turnovers.
"I thought he single-handedly disrupted so much on the zone tonight," said SIU head coach Barry Hinson.
"The problem with those turnovers was they turned into dunks," Moser agreed.
Southern led by one at halftime, but the game was a see-saw affair throughout with 12 ties and 14 lead changes. Jackson had 18 second-half points and seemed to deliver a critical bucket every time his team needed one.
"I'm literally, completely overjoyed for our players," said Hinson, whose team snapped a three-game slide. "We've had a gamut of emotions here over the last few days."
The Salukis spent 22 hours on the road on Sunday and Monday traveling through a snowstorm, and then made a nine-hour bus ride to Chicago on Tuesday. They showed no ill effects or road weariness, however.
"When's the last time you guys slept on a bus or in a church on a pew? I slept in a car at Huck's," Hinson said. "I thought tonight we got a glimpse of what we possibly could be. We really played together tonight and unselfishly."
Loyola forward Christian Thomas was a force inside with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Doyle added 17 points, though he committed eight turnovers. Anthony Beane broke out of a recent slump with a 15-point outing, and Pendleton added 14.
The story of the night, though, was Jackson.
"Desmar and I had a heart-to-heart meeting two days ago, and I challenged him, and he responded extremely well," Hinson said.