Feb. 2, 2013
By Tom Weber
NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State handed Southern Illinois its sixth-straight loss and swept the season series with an 83-47 victory on Saturday. It was the most-lopsided margin in the 143-game series between the schools and the fourth-worst loss in SIU history.
With the win, the ninth-place Redbirds (13-10, 4-7) moved three full games ahead of the last-place Salukis (8-14, 1-10) in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.
The outcome was never in doubt, as ISU led by double digits just five minutes into the game. Senior center Jackie Carmichael had his way with Southern in the paint, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
ISU head coach Dan Muller credited the victory to his team's defense, though, which held the Salukis to a season-low 30 percent shooting.
"Even if you don't get baskets, you get stops and the other team can't go on a run," Muller said. "It's about playing every possession defensively."
On this day, the Redbirds were solid on both ends of the court. Eight different players scored at least seven points, and senior guard Tyler Brown led the team with 16. He was a question mark heading into the game because of a sprained thumb that kept him out of practice yesterday.
"I didn't want him to re-aggravate it, but I wasn't going to tell him he couldn't play," Muller said. "He only has four home games left."
The Salukis trailed by 12 points at halftime, but the bottom fell out midway through the second half. ISU ended the game on a 28-7 run.
"The second half just got away from us and we had no chance of getting it back," said SIU head coach Barry Hinson. "There was an eight-minute span where we just went brain-dead. Frustration, lack of confidence culminated."
Everything boiled over for Hinson in the final minute of the game. He felt SIU walk-on Calvin Belts was fouled with 40 seconds remaining, and the first-year head coach left Southern's bench to protest the call. Two technical fouls later, he was escorted to the locker room.
"I deserved to be tossed," Hinson acknowledged. "I was getting beat and somebody was taking advantage of our kids like that. I deserved it, but I will not apologize for that."
Hinson elected to go small with his starting lineup, using five guards and no player taller than 6-foot-2. On the bench sat the team's leading scorer, 6-5 guard Desmar Jackson and top big man Dantiel Daniels. Although Jackson scored a team-high 14 points off the bench, Hinson spoke afterward about the junior's off-court issues.
"Desmar is pretty good at not being punctual," Hinson said. "He missed an activity. Not only did he miss one, but he missed three times."
Since scoring a career-high 23 points right before Christmas, Daniels injured an ankle in the conference opener and has been in a lengthy slump. Hinson said benching the sophomore forward was meant to motivate him.
"I think it's pretty obvious what I'm trying to do here -- I've got to find a way to get Dantiel to play," he said. "He played 15 minutes today and he scored one point and gets one rebound? He's our tallest player. We have to get something."
Southern's offense has been in a funk. In the last five games, SIU has scored 56 or fewer points each time.
Lately, the Salukis have been settling for 3-point shots, which is not a team strength. For the second-straight game, they attempted a season-high in 3-point shots. In the last two games, the team is 13-for-51 from outside the arc.
After starting the conference season 0-6, the Redbirds appear to have turned the corner by winning four of their last five games, including a pair against SIU.
"They are an enigma to me," Hinson said. "I watch them against other teams, and for whatever reason they really like playing against us."
Southern Illinois has lost 13-straight MVC road games dating back to last season. The last Valley road win came at Bradley on Jan. 4, 2012.
"The thing I challenge our guys is just to continue to play hard," Hinson said.