Furious comeback by Men's Basketball falls short at Austin Peay, 72-70

    Desmar Jackson tied a career-high with 29 points.

    Desmar Jackson tied a career-high with 29 points.
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    Nov. 19, 2013

    By Tom Weber

    Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

    CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - A furious second-half comeback by Southern Illinois fell just short as Austin Peay held on for a 72-70 win on Tuesday night at the Dunn Center.

    The Salukis (0-3) trailed by 17 points, 57-40, with 11:31 remaining, but Desmar Jackson led a remarkable rally. He took over a sputtering offense that had scored just six second-half points and finished the night by tying his career high with 29 points.

    Truly it was the Jackson show in the second half as he scored 18 points. With 6:10 to go, he threw down a tomahawk slam dunk, was fouled, and completed the three-point play to cut the deficit to single digits, 61-54. Another thundering dunk at the 3:48 mark made it 65-61.

    Southern came all the way back to tie it, 68-68, when Jalen Pendleton split a pair of free throws. The Governors (2-1) were teetering on the edge, but Travis Betran scored and was fouled and his three-point play put his team up, 71-68.

    "They made a great run at us and we couldn't handle Jackson -- he's a terrific player," said APSU head coach Dave Loos. "We did just enough to hang on."

    In the frantic closing seconds, Jackson turned the ball over and then fouled Bertran, who split a pair to put his team up, 72-68. Southern answered with a driving lay up by Sean O'Brien to cut it to 72-70, then quickly fouled APSU's Fred Garmon on the in-bounds pass. Garmon missed both free throws, allowing SIU a chance to tie, but Anthony Beane had his shot blocked by Chris Horton at the buzzer.

    "I'm sure people are looking at it and saying boy, you almost blew that game, but we didn't," said Loos. "I am proud of the guys hanging in there and finding a way. Jackson was so tough. The guy gets 29, but I thought we did a good job on him, to be honest."

    Southern started slowly on offense in both halves, falling behind by eight early in the game, before closing to a three-point deficit at intermission.

    "We fought a little bit, down 17, to get back, but we didn't fight to start the game and didn't fight at the start of the second half," said SIU head coach Barry Hinson. "I'm really upset with our basketball team. We have to show a little bit more fight than that. That's not characteristic of this program or any of my ball clubs. We'll find out what the problem is."

    The Salukis had 13 shots blocked in the contest, including seven by Horton.

    "We talked about it coming into this game -- they're a shot-blocking team -- shot fake, get them up in the air, go into their body," Hinson said. "That's all we talked about at halftime on offense, and we couldn't do it."

    Pendleton was a spark plug again for the Salukis, coming off the bench to score 11 points and grab six rebounds, including four on the offensive end.

    "Our coach who had the scout said, hey this guy looks like a guard but he's not," Loos remarked. "He was good."

    Both teams struggled from the perimeter, with APSU making 4-for-18 from 3-point and Southern just 2-of-10. The Salukis are 10-of-40 from outside the arc on the season.

    The Salukis are 0-3 for just the second time in the last 50 years and host Division II Missouri S&T on Thursday.

    "We're 0-3, that's all I know," Hinson said. "We have to win a ball game."