Dantiel Daniels scored a career-high 23 points.
Dec. 20, 2012
By Tom Weber
LOGAN, Utah - First-year Saluki head coach Barry Hinson warned there would be days like this.
Underdog UC Davis rallied from a two-point halftime deficit to beat Southern Illinois, 78-70, on Thursday night in the first game of the World Vision Challenge.
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Salukis (6-3) and left their head coach agitated.
"I'm not only disappointed, I'm really upset with my team right now," said Hinson, who is trying to reverse the fortunes of a program that won eight games last year. "We didn't guard, we didn't give any effort."
Picked to finish ninth in the Big West Conference, the Aggies (3-6) got a big lift from Ryan Sypkens, who made four of his five 3-pointers during a 10-minute span of the second half. The last one at 7:28 was probably the biggest, as SIU had cut a nine-point deficit to three, only to have Sypkens knock down another trey.
"When the guy is the third-best 3-point shooter in the country, and you tell guys that on the scouting report, that just comes down to focus, that comes down to being tough," Hinson said. "I just told them there's no reason for us to scout these next two games, because they don't listen to what we talk about anyway."
Southern came as close as four points in the final minutes, but down the stretch it was UC Davis guard Corey Hawkins who sealed the victory. He was a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line to finish with 20 points.
"This is the first game where I felt really comfortable scoring the ball and at the free throw line," said Daniels, who had 17 second-half points. "Unfortunately, it had to come with a loss."
The Salukis committed a season-low six turnovers and took 15 more shots from the field than the Aggies, but they converted only 35 percent to UC Davis' 49 percent.
"We didn't turn the ball over because we didn't handle it enough, we shot it so quick," Hinson said. "We average about 11-12-13 threes per game. We shot 20 threes tonight and 13 in the first half."
Hinson said his team lacked energy, effort and enthusiasm.
"We're kind of reverting back to some things," he said. "Everybody kinda told me what happened last year, and things like that, we have to get away from that. We have to change the culture, and certainly we didn't do that today."
The game was a rematch of former Valley head coaches as UC-Davis is led by one-time Bradley coach Jim Les, while Hinson spent nine years at Missouri State. Hinson dropped to 8-5 lifetime against Les in head-to-head matchups.
Southern has little time to lick its wounds as it will play Nicholls State (1-6) at 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday.