Jan. 29, 2014
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois pulled off a stunning upset of Indiana State on Wednesday night, breezing by the Missouri Valley Conference's second-place team, 79-60, and snapping a three-game losing streak in the process. It was the largest margin of victory over a conference opponent since beating Northern Iowa by 20 on Feb. 20, 2008.
The Salukis (7-15, 3-6) did it with great defense in the first half -- holding the visitors to 16 points, and with great offense in the second half -- scoring 54 points on 67 percent shooting. They led by as many as 23 on a night when every player who entered the game scored.
Anthony Beane had a career-high 22 points to lead SIU, while Desmar Jackson chipped in all 16 of his points in the second half. Two freshmen had double-doubles with Bola Olaniyan posting 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Sean O'Brien added 11 points and 12 rebounds.
"I hope we're growing up, I hope that wasn't a video game, I hope that wasn't fantasy world," said SIU head coach Barry Hinson.
Both teams started slowly in a low-scoring, grind-it-out first half. Southern missed its first six shots and its first 10 tries from 3-point, but still led by nine at halftime, 25-16. The key for SIU in the first half was its eight offensive rebounds that prolonged possessions and forced the Sycamores (14-7, 7-2) to expend energy on defense.
"They set the tone early, they were more desperate and determined to get a win," said Indiana State head coach Greg Lansing, whose team fell two games behind league-leading Wichita State. "You can never let somebody want it more than you, especially with some of the things that maybe we thought we had at stake. I'm awfully disappointed in how we played."
Olaniyan had eight rebounds in the first half alone and has gone from a seldom-used player to a force to be reckoned with in the past 10 days.
"I think he's the best rebounder I've ever coached," Hinson said.
Southern's offense kicked into high gear at the start of the second half with a 9-0 run that featured a steal and a thunderous one-hand jam by Beane that brought the crowd of 4,821 to its feet.
"Golly, we got stops and we just exploded," Hinson said. "We got run-outs and we played well."
ISU continued to labor on offense for much of the second half, not finding any sort of rhythm until late when the game was out of hand. The starting back court of Jake Odum and Dawon Cummings was 4-for-20 from the field. As a team, ISU converted 39 percent from the field, missed 11 free throws and committed 14 turnovers.
"We turned the ball over, we tried to be quick on offense, which has been an Achilles' heel when we haven't played well," Lansing said. "They played with a tremendous sense of urgency and we didn't."
Beane made all three of his second-half shot attempts and 9-of-10 from the free throw line, where he had been struggling as of late.
"When we needed the young guys -- the young guys played well, when we needed the old guys to make a play -- the old guys made a play," Hinson said.
Hinson said the play of Olaniyan and O'Brien bodes well for the program's future -- one that will not include senior phenom Jackson next year.
"I know what everybody's saying -- we've said it, too -- what are you going to do when you lose 20 points a game?" Hinson asked. "As long as these young guys continue to develop and make strides, I thought that was very encouraging."
Southern has won consecutive games only once this year when it beat Ball State and SIUE prior to Christmas. Hinson challenged his team to respond with another victory on Saturday against Loyola.
"We can play good for one game, but we can't play good for two games, because we're too cool for school," he said. "We go to the buffet, get our bellies full and just take naps."
The win created a logjam at the bottom of the MVC standings with SIU, Drake, Loyola and Evansville all tied with 3-6 records.