Desmar Jackson led SIU with 28 points.
Dec. 17, 2013
By Tom Weber
MURRAY, Ky. - Murray State handed Southern Illinois its fourth-straight loss, 73-65, on Tuesday night in the first meeting between the regional rivals since 2006.
The Racers (5-5) led virtually the entire game and by as many as 16 points. Freshman point guard Cameron Payne sparked MSU with 22 points and seven assists, and all but one of his points came in the second half.
In what is becoming a familiar refrain for the Salukis (2-8), Desmar Jackson carried his club with 28 points but had little support from his teammates. The only other player in double figures was Anthony Beane with 11 points. SIU had a season-low three assists as the team's best offense came when Jackson attacked the basket.
SIU head coach Barry Hinson held an animated post-game press conference in which he questioned the toughness of his squad, whose only Division I win to date came prior to Thanksgiving against Stetson.
"I'm struggling with this crew right now -- they won't let me coach them," he said. "Any time I coach somebody, they put their head down. They're soft, we've been enabled, I've got a bunch of momma's boys right now."
The sharpest contrast between the teams was drawn in the battle of the starting point guards. Payne won in lopsided fashion, outscoring Marcus Fillyaw, 22-0. Hinson acknowledged his sophomore point man is struggling to adjust to the Division I level.
"Marcus was absolutely awful," he said. "That's about as PG-rated as I can say it. Our guards were awful. Our starting guards had one assist and seven turnovers. They must think it's a tax credit."
The Salukis trailed by just one, 33-32, early in the second half, but a flurry of missed shots and turnovers resulted in a 15-4 Murray State run, and SIU never seriously challenged the rest of the night.
"We made three turnovers tonight where we just came down and threw them the ball," Hinson said. "I swear one time one of our players said Merry Christmas. I thought it was a gift and he signed the package over."
Murray State actually committed five more turnovers than the visitors, finishing with 18 in the game, but too often the Salukis couldn't convert those miscues into points.
"There was a sniper in the gym. Did you see that? We had guys falling down," Hinson exclaimed. "Two guys snipered at half court. You would have thought Navy Seal Team Six was out there. How does that happen?"
Besides Payne, Southern had trouble containing Clemson transfer T.J. Sapp, who scored 15 points off the bench in 17 minutes in his first game in more than a year.
"He brings a different level of athleticism that we haven't had," said MSU head coach Steve Prohm. "He can go out and get his own shot, he can get out on the wing and really run. I don't think he forced anything tonight. He didn't really mess up the chemistry."
Murray State took its biggest lead, 59-43, on a 3-pointer by Payne with 10:15 remaining. The wiry lefty was 4-for-10 from outside the arc.
"He always seems to take a bunch of shots, but he can create offense for himself and for others," Prohm said. "He really stepped up in the second half and made some big threes."
The Racers held a huge advantage on the glass, 40-29, and SIU's three forwards were 5-of-18 shooting from the field.
Hinson knows his team must find its footing quickly with upcoming home games versus Ball State on Saturday and SIUE on Monday.
"I think every time they don't do something in practice that we want them to do, we just put them on the treadmill or pushups," he said. "When you've got a young team, it's a lot like house-training a puppy dog."