Jan. 24, 2012
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois took out its frustrations on last-place Bradley Tuesday night with a 77-60 victory at SIU Arena.
Three days ago at Wichita State, the Salukis (7-14, 4-6) sustained the most lop-sided loss in school history. Tonight, they posted their biggest margin of victory in a Missouri Valley Conference game since beating Indiana State by 18 points on Dec. 29, 2009 -- a span of 44 league contests.
"(Wichita State) was a Top 25 team, so it was how we lost that was disappointing, not that we lost," head coach Chris Lowery said of his team's 43-point setback on Saturday. "We came back and won today, so that game is already forgotten. As soon as we got off the floor, that game was forgotten."
Southern started and ended the first half with a flurry, compiling a 40-24 lead at halftime -- which was two fewer points than it posted in the entire game against the Shockers. The Salukis jumped out to 9-0 advantage against the Braves (6-16, 1-9), and after Bradley cut the deficit to four points, SIU finished the first half with a 19-7 run. The run was keyed by a trio of 3-pointers by senior guard Justin Bocot, who has been in a slump throughout the month of January.
"I'm happy for him," Lowery said. "He did all the other stuff that we needed him to do, too. He got some steals and tips. It's not all about him making shots, but the other stuff had been lacking for him. He's been in a funk, so it was good for him to break out and play hard and feel good about himself."
Bocot finished the game with 11 points, marking his first double-figure scoring night since producing 15 points on Dec. 23 versus Clemson. He had scored a total of six points in his last five games.
The fifth-year senior said the players held a meeting on Sunday to clear the air after the team's poor performance at Wichita State.
"We sat down and put everything on the table," Bocot said. "We let everybody know what it was. We just can't have a showing like we had at Wichita. Whatever everyone's issue was, we brought it out and got to the bottom of it. Today, it seemed like everyone was on the same page, so I think it helped."
"(Daniels) is a big strong kid, and he is physical in there," said Bradley head coach Geno Ford. "He beat us up and got some angles. They have done a good job developing him. He has a little bit of a soft touch, and he is going to be a good player."
Daniels recorded his first double-double with 10 rebounds, and he also added blocked three shots.
"A happy big kid does the other stuff with rebounding and blocking shots," Lowery noted. "He's been a good kid and been patient and hasn't complained or griped about not getting the ball. Now, we're doing a really nice job of getting him the ball in the right places where he can finish."
After scoring a season-low four points at Wichita State, Seck made 6-of-7 shots against Bradley and dished four assists.
"When you have Seck who can dribble penetrate and make a 15-foot jump shot, and he can find open teammates...he is a First-Team all-league player for a reason," Ford said.
The Braves were led by Taylor Brown's 21 points, but he had little support, as Bradley made just 3-of-18 from 3-point range and 36 percent from the field.
"We were trying to get the game going up and down, because at Wichita, (SIU) didn't do a very good job in transition defense," Ford observed. "We had several run-outs where we turned them over. We probably converted 2-of-10. They did a good job hustling back. I'm sure they emphasized that. Those are plays we have to finish in the open court."
Southern shot 59.6 percent from the field for its best shooting night since making 61.7 percent against Western Michigan on Feb. 20, 2010. However, Lowery was more pleased with his team's defense, as SIU kept an opponent under 65 points for the first time since holding SIUE to 57 on Dec. 19 -- a span of a dozen games. Although Brown had a big night, the Salukis limited Bradley point guard Walt Lemon to 2-of-8 shooting and five turnovers. He entered the game averaging 12.1 points.
"We haven't kept anyone out of the paint in the last four games, and he's (Lemon) been on a tear getting to the rim off ball screens," Lowery said. "We put Kourtney Goff in there and he completely disrupted him and keeping him out of the paint."
The Salukis completed a season sweep of a conference series for the first time since taking both games from Evansville in 2010.
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