Men's Basketball pulls away late to beat William Jewell, 78-66

    Davante Drinkard scored 17 points to lead SIU.

    Davante Drinkard scored 17 points to lead SIU.
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    Nov. 9, 2013

    By Tom Weber

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    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki head coach Barry Hinson spent most of the evening fuming about his star guards -- Desmar Jackson and Anthony Beane -- who arrived late to warmups prior to tonight's exhibition contest versus Division II William Jewell.

    Hinson benched the pair, who combined to score 50 points in the team's first exhibition game a week ago, and occasionally barked at them as he watched his Southern Illinois team struggle throughout much of a 78-66 win over the Cardinals.

    "Since 5:45 (p.m.), I've been upset," Hinson said. "When I discovered we had two players who had 50 points last week, and then they were late, and we had a couple of other incidents in the locker room that just didn't meet my approval."

    With three freshmen in the starting lineup, the Salukis got off to a good start, building an 11-0 lead by holding the Cardinals scoreless for the first six and a half minutes of the game. Senior center Davante Drinkard scored the first four points for SIU and finished with a team-high 17. You'd never know that in 75 career games at SIU he's only cracked double figures twice.

    "That's probably the best offensively he's played since I've been here," Hinson said. "He played within the flow of the game, played within himself and defensively he was much better."

    When the Cardinals cut the lead to 19-16 with 6:33 remaining in the first half, Hinson relented and put Jackson and Beane into the game, though he wasn't happy with their demeanor on the bench.

    "They sit over there and pout like a couple of little babies," he said. "When we go to Missouri, I bet they show up on time. I knew they wouldn't play very well tonight after I got into them."

    Although Beane and Jackson still combined to score 25 points for the Salukis tonight, their absence throughout much of the game allowed several other players to assume the spotlight. Freshman forward Sean O'Brien scored 13 points and added five rebounds and three steals. Sophomore Jalen Pendleton came off the bench to score a dozen points, and Hinson said the burly 6-foot-2 guard will move back to the hybrid forward this year. Pendleton attacked the rim, drew fouls and was 6-of-7 from the free throw line.

    "That's the Jalen we all know and love," Hinson said.

    William Jewell tied the game, 47-47, with 10:15 remaining and stayed within single digits until late. Southern had trouble defending the much smaller Cardinals.

    "We're not going to have to guard little guards anywhere else," Hinson said. "That's the byproduct of playing an exhibition game against a Division II. Your big guys have to play against guards. When we go to Missouri, they're going to have some big guys out on the floor."

    The Salukis led, 65-60, with 3:02 to go, but finished the game on a 13-6 run.

    "There were things we could have done tonight to make the game easier, but I didn't want to do that," Hinson explained. "I wanted to get better at the things we're weak at. That's why you play exhibition games. Fans are going to leave here saying, "You won your first exhibition game by five, you won your second one by 12.' If we won both of them by one I'd be happy. We have to get better."

    Hinson said his assistant coaches reminded him that after the game that the team features nine players in their first year of Division I basketball.

    "Our biggest opponent right now is experience and it's going to be for quite some time," Hinson said. "We're not as good as the team we were last year, but I think we can be better."

    The Salukis open the regular season at Missouri at 8:05 p.m. on Tuesday night in a game televised by Fox Sports Midwest.