Jan. 13, 2012
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - After leading by as many as 13 points, Southern Illinois withstood a second-half rally by Indiana State and held on for a 73-67 win on Friday night at SIU Arena.
The Salukis (6-11, 3-3) never trailed in the game and were hot at the start, making their first three 3-point shots to grab a 13-5 advantage. T.J. Lindsay, who finished with 13 points, made two of the early triples.
Freshman Treg Setty came off the bench to keep the first-half momentum going. He scored all 11 of his points during a seven-minute span in which the Salukis pushed the lead to 39-26. Setty has been hot or cold in recent weeks, either scoring big or not at all. Tonight, he displayed excellent quickness for a rangy 6-foot-9 forward.
"We need to ride him when he's on his high end, and we can't play him when he's down," said Saluki head coach Chris Lowery. "Today, we rode him. He's such a hybrid, a tweener, they don't know who to put on him. He got by bigs, he got by guards, he made plays on different people."
The Sycamores (11-6, 2-4) trimmed the deficit to eight at halftime and eventually tied the score, 54-54, on a pair of free throws by Jake Odum with 10 minutes remaining in the game. The ISU point guard keyed the second-half comeback with 12 of his team-high 15 points. He also finished with a dozen rebounds.
Early was in the right place at the right time all night for Southern Illinois. Making his first start since Dec. 23, the energetic guard raced back on defense three times to block a shot and prevent an easy fast-break basket.
"The hustle, energy and enthusiasm we needed came when we put Jeff (Early) in the lineup," Lowery said.
For an encore, Early caught a desperation 3-point shot by Setty and laid it in for a crucial basket at the 3:44 mark to give Southern a 63-60 lead.
"That one really hurt us and really broke our backs," acknowledged Indiana State head coach Greg Lansing .
Seck led Southern with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the game, and he converted a clutch three-point play that pushed the lead to 66-60 with 2:40 to go.
"After Jeff made the layup, we get a two-plus-one with Mamadou," Lowery said. "That was a huge, huge play -- a great pass (by Lindsay). That was a huge momentum switch for us, to be able to execute and get something out of it."
Southern kept its fans on the edge of their seats by twice missing the front end of 1-and-1s, but the Sycamores were unable to capitalize.
"We held our ground, took their blows and I'm proud of us for that," said Setty.
The Salukis have improved offensively during conference play and the trend continued tonight as they made 51 percent of their shots compared to ISU's 41 percent.
Picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Missouri Valley Conference, Southern is currently tied for fifth and hoping to exceed expectations.
"They are healthy, they have guys back, and they are playing better," Lansing said. "(Chris) has done a great job, and they are going to win games. They have one of the best players in the league, and if they keep defending like they do, they are going to be just fine."