Desmar Jackson scored 28 points for SIU.
Jan. 9, 2013
By Tom Weber
WICHITA, Kan. - Southern Illinois bloodied the nose of No. 23 Wichita State, but could not deliver the knockout punch, as the Shockers escaped with an 82-76 victory in a wild one at sold-out Koch Arena on Wednesday night.
The Salukis (7-8, 0-4) were heavy underdogs and looked the part early as the Shockers (15-1, 4-0) bolted to a 7-0 lead in the first 90 seconds. Staggered, but still on its feet, Southern steadily climbed back into the game by beating Wichita's full-court press and making acrobatic shots against its much taller opponent. The Salukis took their first lead, 21-19, on a 3-pointer by Kendal Brown-Surles with 11:19 in the first half. They led by as many as 11 before settling for a 43-34 halftime lead.
"They made tough shots and it seemed like everything they shot in the first half went in," said Wichita State head coach Greg Marshall. "Part of it was our defensive mindset wasn't where it was supposed to be, and part of it is on me."
SIU shot 53 percent in the first half and Desmar Jackson had 15 of his team-high 28 points.
"We asked our guys going into tonight's game, forget about the scoreboard, and let's grade ourselves at the end of the game on attitude and effort," said SIU head coach Barry Hinson. Then he joked, "and I also said let's make sure that we can set some type of individual scoring record for number 11 (Cleanthony Early). And those guys did exactly what I asked them to do."
Early was virtually unstoppable for Wichita, scoring 39 points -- the most by a Shocker since Xavier McDaniel in 1985. The 6-foot-8 forward scored inside and outside, converting five 3-pointers. He started the second half with a bucket that spurred a 10-0 run that gave Wichita the lead. His free throws with 7:02 remaining gave Wichita it's biggest edge, 70-60.
Hinson said he was most proud that his team didn't quit. Behind Jackson and freshman Anthony Beane, who scored 14 points, SIU chipped away at the lead, finally cutting it two, 78-76, on a pair of free throws by Beane with 29 seconds remaining. Southern never had possession of the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead as Malcolm Armstead sealed the victory for WSU with four-straight free throws to end the game.
"When you get backed up into a corner, you want your guys to respond, and I think they did tonight," Hinson said. "I told them that's the Salukis I played against for nine years (at Missouri State). That's the team that we have to have."
Between Early and 7-foot center Ehimen Orukpe, who scored 12 points and blocked seven shots, the Shockers towered over the smaller Salukis, a team with just one player taller than 6-foot-5.
"When your enemy has so much more strength than you do, you have to go to guerrilla warfare," said Hinson. "We did everything we could do to get stops."
The Salukis are 0-4 in the MVC for the first time since 1987, but Marshall said if Southern continues to play as well as it did against his team, wins are sure to follow.
"I think they were the story tonight," he said. "I thought they played tremendous basketball. They made great shots. They executed beautifully, especially in the first half. They played small ball and it was a little hard to deal with. The match-ups were crazy and we were getting driven, and they were making great shots."
Hinson said his team ran out of a gas at the end, or as he put it, "I'm an old farm boy and there wasn't a lot of milk left in the udder."
Marshall called Jackson "quite a talent," but Hinson said SIU's junior guard is on a short leash and could be dismissed from the team prior to the second semester, which begins on Monday.
"He's late, he's been disrespectful, he hasn't practiced hard, he's been lazy, and I told him if he wants to be a Saluki, then you better start getting after it," Hinson related. "I told him in the locker room, you still have to get through Saturday before I make my decision."
Both teams are in the midst of lengthy streaks. WIchita State has won 16-straight games at home, while SIU has lost nine-straight conference games dating back to last season.
"I have to constantly remind our guys that we're not that bad," Hinson said. "We need to get over the hump and win a game. That's the best Band-Aid we can get right now."