Dec. 19, 2011
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Score one for the big brother.
Five players reached double figures for Southern Illinois, as it coasted to an 80-57 victory over sister school SIU-Edwardsville on Monday night at SIU Arena.
The Salukis (3-5), who have yet to allow an opponent to score 65 points this season, added some offense to their repertoire. It was a potent combination and more than the Cougars (2-7) could handle.
SIU entered the game averaging 56.4 points per game, ranking 323rd out of 344 Division I teams. The Cougars threw a mixture of defenses at Southern and none of them worked.
The Salukis led by 15 at halftime and by as many as 24 in the second half in what was easily their best performance of the season. WIth a rotation of 12 players, they shot a season-high 50 percent from the field and used their new-found strength inside to outscore SIUE in the paint, 42-20.
"I thought they were one of the best teams we've played," said SIUE head coach Lennox Forrester. "I compare them to Illinois and Illinois State with how physical they were."
It was a break-out game for Daniels, a freshman who has been slowed by a pulled groin. The burly 6-foot-6 forward was overpowering whenever he touched the ball near the goal. Seck moved back to the four-spot and used his speed to run the floor for easy buckets. Meanwhile Drinkard, making his first start of the season, scored a career-high using an array of post-up moves.
"If you look at our bigs, when we can mix and match them, they are a tough matchup for teams," said Saluki head coach Chris Lowery."
Even foul trouble could not slow down Southern. Three starters -- Seck, Drinkard and Josh Swan -- missed most of the half with two fouls. It didn't seem to matter as the parts appeared interchangeable for SIU.
Walk-on Kourtney Goff started at the point for the second-straight game and effectively directed traffic, while picking up three steals. Junior guard T.J. Lindsay came off the bench to score 13 points in 18 minutes and continues to play well since moving from the point to the two-guard.
"T.J. is really starting to come along," Lowery noted. "It is like the world has been lifted off his shoulder because he doesn't have to handle it."
SIUE, which moved up to Division I status in 2007 and joined the Ohio Valley Conference last season, was led by freshman Kris Davis, who scored 21 points.
Defense hasn't been a problem this season for Southern, and it wasn't tonight. It held SIUE to 36 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers. Offensively, it was SIU's highest scoring output since putting 83 points on the board against SEMO on Dec. 8, 2010 -- a span of 31 games.
"What we do takes time to gel," said Lowery, whose roster has been in flux much of the season. "We keep telling them that what we do hangs banners. It has to take all of us to do it."