Nov. 25, 2011
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Diamond Taylor scored a career-high 19 points and led four players in double figures as Southern Illinois beat Chicago State, 73-57, on Friday night.
The Salukis (1-3) snapped a three-game losing skid and improved to 10-0 all-time in the series against the Cougars (0-5).
Entering the game, Southern was shooting just 12 percent from 3-point range, but its first six points came from downtown as Taylor knocked down a pair of treys. The team ended up 6-of-15 from outside the arc as perimeter shots finally started to fall for head coach Chris Lowery's team.
"We did a good job shooting," Lowery said. "We saw every type of zone imaginable along with every type of press."
Taylor easily surpassed his previous career best of 12 points by making 7-of-13 shots from the field and 3-of-5 from 3-point. He also added five rebounds.
"Diamond has figured out that he can make shots for us," Lowery said. "That is his job, but he has to take good shots for us. He also has to make adjustments and drive to the basket and get to the free throw line."
Southern led by seven at halftime and gradually pulled away in the second half, leading by double figures almost the entire way. The closest the Cougars came was nine points on a jumper by Jeremy Robinson with 6:20 remaining in the game, but SIU countered with a 7-0 run to put a mark in the win column.
"Coach Lowery did a great job of getting us prepared for this game," Taylor said. "He showed us every zone they had, so we weren't affected by it or afraid, we were ready."
Chicago State's press did little to slow down SIU, which had season highs in almost every offensive category, including points, 3-point field goals and assists.
"I think that our guys kept our composure," Lowery explained. "You have to stand up and not let people bully you. I think we did a good job of that."
Senior forward Mamadou Seck was his usual steady self, gathering his ninth career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Lowery was also pleased with the play of guards Josh Swan and Jeff Early. Making his second start at point guard, Swan had 11 points, four assists and no turnovers. Early, who struggled to play under control in previous games, added 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
"Josh did a great job, and he is just a calming influence," said Lowery. "Jeff has grown tremendously from the high-wire circus act he was two weeks ago. That is just being able to coach him a little bit more. Everything he did today was positive."
Tipoff was delayed 30 minutes due to a mix-up with the officiating crew. The Great West Conference did not supply referees for the contest, and a trio of Illinois High School Athletic Association officials were late fill-ins.
"Those guys had a tough job tonight, and we need to thank them for stepping in on such short notice," said Lowery.
The Salukis will have a 12-day layoff before hosting Western Kentucky on Dec. 7.
"Now we have a little bit of time off to coach them," Lowery said. "We have been working so hard to do things right, and now we see the fruits of our labor."
Starting forward Dantiel Daniels did not play, due to a groin pull that he suffered in the opener against Ohio Dominican. Lowery said Daniels has not practiced and it is uncertain if he'll be ready for the Western game.