Defense keys Men's Basketball win over Evansville, 65-56

    Jeff Early had his seventh double-double of the season.

    Jeff Early had his seventh double-double of the season.
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    Feb. 13, 2013

    By Tom Weber

    Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois combined good old-fashioned, aggressive man-to-man defense and timely 3-point shooting to beat Evansville, 65-56, on Wednesday night at SIU Arena.

    The Salukis (10-15, 3-11) held the Purple Aces (14-12, 7-7) scoreless for more than eight minutes during a decisive stretch in the second half. When Jeff Early hit a 3-pointer with 11:11 remaining in the game, it capped a 15-0 run for SIU that turned a one-point deficit into an insurmountable 48-34 lead. Early had his seventh double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead SIU.

    "They forced us into some quick shots, we weren't strong with the basketball and we didn't make good decisions," said Evansville head coach Marty Simmons, whose team dropped to 1-7 in Missouri Valley Conference road games. "We didn't have a blue-collar mentality and Southern did."

    The game was a complete reversal from the first meeting between the teams more than a month ago in Evansville, in which the Purple Aces had wide-open looks and shot 58 percent from the field to win by 18. Tonight, they hit just 41 percent and turned the ball over 18 times.

    "They were more aggressive, more competitive, they made things harder for us," Simmons said of Southern's defense. "We didn't get the looks off screens like we did in the first game. They gave us resistance."

    SIU head coach Barry Hinson said the defensive key for his team was to stay down on shot fakes against the smallish Aces, whose offense is based upon rapid ball movement and screening.

    "Every drill we've run this week, we ended it with a shot-fake to make sure our guys stay down," Hinson said. "If you're born in the state of Indiana, when you come out of your mother's womb, the first thing you do is shot-fake."

    To beat Evansville, you have to limit Colt Ryan's touches on offense and play solid defense against his teammates. That's exactly what Southern did, holding the senior star right at his conference average of 21 points, while no other player scored more than 10.

    SIU was especially careful to keep the Purple Aces off the free throw line. Ryan is a 90 percent free-throw shooter and had 123 attempts entering the game, but was only 2-for-2 tonight. SIU had a 29-8 advantage in free throw attempts.

    The Salukis also dominated the boards with a 38-26 rebounding margin over Evansville -- one of the few opponents in which SIU holds a size advantage.

    "Davante (Drinkard) and Dantiel (Daniels) rebounded the basketball, and between those two guys, they got a double-double," said Hinson of his two post players. "In order for you to be successful in this league, your big guys have to play."

    Daniels had nine points and six rebounds, and his inside presence freed up Southern's shooters, who made 6-of-15 from 3-point. Anthony Beane was 2-for-4 from outside the arc and finished with 12 points. Teammate Jalen Pendleton made one 3-pointer and also scored 12.

    "We shot 40 percent from three because we were able to get baskets inside," Hinson noted.

    Although SIU shot 47 percent from the field, its offense was sometimes ragged, as the team the team turned the ball over 20 times.

    "Tonight, in the first half, that's the most selfish basketball we've played all year long," said Hinson, whose team had two assists and 13 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. "In the second half, all we told our guys was to try to make a play for somebody else and be unselfish."

    The Salukis extended their home winning streak over Evansville to 12 games, dating back to 2002.