Western Kentucky tops Men's Basketball, 69-60

    Anthony Beane scores two of his team-high 20 points.

    Anthony Beane scores two of his team-high 20 points.
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    Dec. 7, 2013

    By Tom Weber

    Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Western Kentucky snapped an eight-game non-conference road losing streak with a 69-60 win over Southern Illinois on Saturday.

    Brandon Harris scored a career-high 30 points to lead the Hilltoppers (5-3), whose last road victory over a non-conference foe was, ironically, exactly two years ago at SIU.

    Coming into the game, Harris was averaging four points and shooting 17 percent from 3-point, but he scorched the net by making 8-of-14 tries from outside the arc.

    "When you're not very good, people's confidence level and comfort level goes up when they play against you," said SIU head coach Barry Hinson, whose team lost its third-straight game. "They really don't fear you."

    Harris was the centerpiece of a 17-3 WKU second-half run that turned a five-point deficit into a 55-46 Hilltoppers' lead with 7:52 remaining. He hit four-consecutive treys during that span.

    "We did a great job of making that extra pass and turned down a good shot for a great shot," said Western head coach Ray Harper.

    The Salukis (2-7) made a comeback behind some hot shooting of their own. Anthony Beane, who finished with a team-high 20 points, made back-to-back 3-pointers during an 8-2 SIU run that shaved Western's lead to three, 57-54, with 6:08 to go.

    Harris then made his eighth 3-point shot of the afternoon and Southern never threatened the lead in the final minutes of play.

    "We were beat," Hinson acknowledged. "We just lost our confidence, our body language -- all our heads were down."

    SIU primarily played zone defense, forcing its opponent to settle for 30 3-point shots out of 51 field goal attempts. Other than Harris, Western was 2-of-16 from downtown. Hinson said you can continue to expect his team to play a lot of 2-3 zone this season.

    "We have to protect our better players -- we were in foul trouble all day long," he explained. "We're not athletic enough to go out and guard other athletic teams."

    Western Kentucky's leading scorer heading into the game, T.J. Price, was held to five points on 2-of-10 shooting, but he contributed five assists and no turnovers. Conversley, the Salukis as a team had seven assists and 14 turnovers. Other than Beane, the only Saluki player in double figures was Desmar Jackson with 15 points.

    "Somebody else has got to help us," Hinson said. "We're riding those horses really hard right now, but we've got to have somebody who can score inside."

    Freshman Tyler Smithpeters and junior Mike Balogun each came off the bench and made their only 3-point attempts of the game, but Hinson said he didn't feel confident enough in their defense to leave them on the floor for extended minutes.

    "We're giving up defense for offense (with Tyler and Mike)," he said. "Tyler comes in and makes a big three, then gives up a layup on the other end. Michael comes in and defense is just not part of his repertoire."

    Southern has a 10-day layoff during finals week before it plays at Murray State on Dec. 17.

    "Coach (Bill) Self used to say fear paralyzes you, and right now, we don't have a lot of guys with confidence," Hinson said."Only a win is going to take care of this for us. I still like this team and feel we have a chance to be pretty good."