Jan. 27, 2013
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Coming off of two-straight losses, No. 12-ranked Creighton played with an added sense of urgency on Sunday night, especially on the offensive end, en route to an easy 81-51 win over Southern Illinois.
The Bluejays (18-3, 7-2) shot 63 percent from the field, including 12-of-20 from 3-point range. All-American forward Doug McDermott scored 21 points -- four points below his average -- but just about every player in a Creighton uniform contributed to the victory, and five players scored in double figures.
"When we make shots, we're a pretty good basketball team," deadpanned Creighton head coach Greg McDermott.
The visitors shot 74 percent from the field in the first half, the second-best shooting performance by an opponent in the 49-year history of SIU Arena. Doug McDermott had 16 of his points in the first half and routinely used his 6-foot-8-inch frame to establish position near the basket for easy layups.
"In the first half, I thought we did a good job of throwing it up over the top of them and letting our bigs go up and get it," said Greg McDermott.
The Salukis (8-12, 1-8) were simply overmatched, suffering the third-worst defeat in arena history and by the largest margin since falling by 33 points to Saint Louis in 1989.
"We knew it was a tall order for us," said SIU head coach Barry Hinson, whose undersized team has consistently struggled on the defensive end in conference play. "The thing that makes them so good is you have to pick and choose your poison."
Desmar Jackson scored the first 10 points for Southern and finished with a team-high 16, but no one else reached double figures, as the Salukis shot 37 percent from the field. SIU played without second-leading scorer Jeff Early, who served a one-game suspension for committing a Flagrant 2 foul at UNI last week.
"I need to talk to David Copperfield," Hinson said. "We're doing everything we can imagine to keep our guys motivated, play hard, have great attitudes, have great effort, and they're responding. I know we're close."
There was genuine affection displayed between the two head coaches both during the game and afterward in the press conferences. At one point during the second half, McDermott shouted to his team to get ready for the press. Hinson shouted back to McDermott not to worry, we're not pressing.
In the press conference, McDermott explained his admiration for Hinson, saying, "seven years ago, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. When she was first diagnosed, she received a card or flowers every 10 days throughout the season from Barry Hinson. His ability to coach basketball doesn't hold a candle to his integrity."
Later, Hinson thanked McDermott for pulling his regulars with four minutes remaining and not running up the score.
"What Greg McDermott did tonight in the last four minutes of the game shows you what a class individual he is and what a good friend he is of mine," Hinson said. "They could have beat us a lot worse. That's as good an act of sportsmanship as you can have."
McDermott noted that Hinson has long been an ambassador for the Missouri Valley Conference, saying, "it is so good for our league to have him back, and he will light a fire under this program. He'll fight tooth and nail and do it the right way."
Hinson joked, "I find a lot of happiness in his son's success, and I'll find a lot more happiness when his son declares for the NBA Draft."
Once again, Hinson thanked SIU's fans, who remained engaged throughout the contest.
"We've won one game and they just keep coming out," said Hinson regarding the crowd of 5,764. "I told our players if they give great effort, they'll come back. We've given everything in our tank and they continue to come back, and I'm very appreciative."
SIU is off to the worst start at the midway point of the season since Joe Gottfried's 1981 team went 0-16. In spite of the mounting losses, Hinson sees light at the end of the tunnel.
"They're responding to everything I do," he said. "We need to win a ball game. If they'll continue to play like that, I can't be upset with them."