Desmar Jackson slams home two of his career-high 29 points.
Jan. 12, 2013
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - A little defense and a lot of Desmar Jackson were all Southern Illinois needed to pull off a surprising upset of Indiana State, 76-71, on Saturday night before 5,315 fans at SIU Arena.
The Salukis (8-8, 1-4) snapped a nine-game losing streak in Missouri Valley Conference games and a five-game losing skid overall. They did it behind a remarkable performance by Jackson, who tied a career-high with 29 points, including 15-straight during a critical stretch of the second half. He also added eight rebounds and three steals.
"He's as good as anybody in this league," said Indiana State head coach Greg Lansing. "We had no answer for him."
After Wednesday's game at Wichita State, in which Jackson scored 28, SIU head coach Barry Hinson called out his leading scorer in post-game remarks -- and not for his on-court play. The message got through, Hinson said.
"He's done everything I've asked him -- he's been aggressive, he's been responsible, he's been on time, he's treated this program like it's a privilege and not a right," said Hinson, who had threatened to send Jackson home if his conduct didn't change. "This last week, he's realized that I love him and want the best for him, but he's also realized the definition of tough love. I think we can move forward now."
Besides, Jackson's stellar night, Southern held the Sycamores (10-6, 3-2) to 41 percent shooting from the field, including 6-of-23 from 3-point, marking the first time in six games SIU has kept an opponent below 50 percent.
"We just handed it to them over and over again with our turnovers and soft play on the offensive end," said Lansing. "They were the aggressor."
For the first time this season, Southern played man-to-man defense exclusively throughout the game and extended its defense into the passing lanes. The strategy led to nine steals and caused ISU to commit a season-high 19 turnovers. The Salukis limited All-Conference guard Jake Odum to 15 points.
"When you're getting your butts beat and you're 0-4, you're backed up against the wall a little bit," Hinson explained. "You have to go out of your comfort zone and take other people out (of theirs)."
From the opening tip, the Salukis were the scrappier team. Jeff Early, a 6-foot-1 forward, crashed the boards for a career-high 13 rebounds. Offensively, the Salukis shot just 41 percent, but they consistently attacked the basket, drawing fouls and making a season-high 32-of-42 free throws.
"We put on the board before the game, 'don't let (SIU) be the more desperate, determined team, and that's what they were from start to finish,'" Lansing said. "We got out-played every minute of that game, we got out-coached every minute of that game. Give all the credit to Southern Illinois for wanting it worse than we did."
The eighth victory matches SIU's win total from last season. It also marks the first MVC win for Barry Hinson at SIU Arena since 1999, his first year at Missouri State and snapped a personal 10-game losing streak.
"We just needed a win so our guys could calculate that effort, plus playing together, equals a victory," Hinson said. "You can only go to the well so many times to ask guys to do this, do that, to see the payoff. 'Much needed' cannot be highlighted enough."
Saluki forward Dantiel Daniels made his first appearance since spraining his ankle at Missouri State two weeks ago and made all three of his shots, finishing with seven points in 22 minutes off the bench.
"We weren't going to play him unless we needed him, and you saw how long that took," Hinson said. "He finally gives us an inside presence."
Indiana State entered the night with an RPI of 25 and in contention for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid thanks to a resume that includes wins over Ole Miss and Miami. The loss to Southern dims those chances, though there is still time for Indiana State to recover.
"Every team in this league can beat you," Lansing said. "They earned this victory."