Jalen Pendleton scored a career-high 17 points to lead SIU.
Feb. 9, 2013
By Tom Weber
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Indiana State survived a scare in their quest to build an infallible NCAA Tournament resume, as Jake Odum banked home the game-winning shot with 18 seconds remaining for a 66-65 win over last-place Southern Illinois.
The Sycamores (16-8, 9-4) trailed most of the game and by as many as 12 points before staging a late comeback. Despite wins over highly regarded Miami, Mississippi and Creighton, ISU's tournament hopes may not have been able to survive a second loss to the Salukis (9-15, 2-11).
Trailing by one point with 35 seconds remaining, ISU put the ball in the hands of savvy veteran Jake Odum -- a do-everything junior point guard, who finished the game with 13 points, five assists, two blocks and four steals.
Odum blew by Saluki defender Anthony Beane into the paint and split two more defenders to get a clear look at the basket from five feet away.
"Everybody here, including Southern Illinois, knew he was going to make a play for himself or for one of his teammates," said Indiana State head coach Greg Lansing, whose team is second in the Missouri Valley Conference standings. "I thought he was going to have to give up, but he made a great play. He's a winning player."
SIU head coach Barry Hinson said he regretted trying to defend Odum man-to-man on the crucial possession.
"I decided to go man instead of zone, and that's probably on me -- I'm accountable," said Hinson. "We knew Jake was going to shoot the ball, we just said give strong help. We didn't do a very good job of helping. Big players make big plays."
The victory was still tantalizingly close for Southern, and only a handful of late miscues prevented it from following up last Tuesday's shocking upset over Wichita State with another stunner.
On the final possession, Southern spread the floor for leading scorer Desmar Jackson. He was trapped near midcourt and lost the ball with six seconds on the clock. Freshman teammate Jalen Pendleton plucked the ball out of mid-air, drove baseline and his 12-foot jumper at the buzzer caught the back of the rim.
"I thought the play (Jalen) made at the end was pretty good," Hinson said. "He had the gumption to go down there and make a play. He's just not very athletic. He can't jump up -- the guy could have blocked it without jumping."
Hinson was more upset over the no-call when Jackson lost the ball, asking the media, "do you remember the play where Dez gets pummeled at half court?"
Southern had excellent starts to both halves, as Jackson scored nine points to give his team a 15-3 lead after the opening tip, while Pendleton scored six-straight to jumpstart a 9-2 run to begin the second half.
"Sometimes, guys aren't going to be as locked in as they need to be and play as well as they should," said Lansing, regarding his team's slow start. "You can't play any better than we did against Creighton (on Wednesday)."
The Salukis had four players score in double figures, led by Pendleton's career-high 17 points. At 6-foot-2, he played forward and was a defensive mismatch for the taller, slower Indiana State front-court. He played a career-high 24 minutes, while starter Jeff Early was limited to eight minutes and was noticeably limping.
One of the key turning points of the second half came after a Dantiel Daniels dunk with 5:48 remaining gave the Salukis a 55-49 lead. ISU immediately answered with a four-point play by RJ Mahurin, who was hacked by Daniels. Mahurin made 5-of-7 shots from 3-point and recorded 16 points and three blocks on the day.
Later, the teams traded 3-point baskets with Kendal Brown-Surles hitting a trey that put Southern up, 62-59, with 2:38 to go, and Mahurin countering with a bomb from the left corner on ISU's next possession.
After losing on the road to Illinois State by 36 points seven days ago, SIU has played its best week of basketball in the conference season, beating No. 22 Wichita State and taking Indiana State to the wire.
"I don't think we're as bad as what everybody thinks we are," Hinson said. "Now, there's a little bit of fear factor when you play us."
The Salukis have lost 14-straight conference road games -- one shy of the school record set between 1982 and 1984 -- but Hinson is pleased with his team's recent play. Today, Daniels came out of a slump with 12 points, and Southern shot 49 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3-point.
"I'm encouraged," Hinson said. "I think there are several things here that we have to draw upon."
Both teams struggled from the free throw line, where ISU made just 15-of-25 and SIU was 15-of-26.
Lansing knows just how close his team came to having its season undercut by a lesser opponent.
"We didn't deserve to win, they did," he said. "It's fine if you just want to finish in the upper half, but if you want to contend for a championship, you can't play like you did today."