Dec. 22, 2012
By Tom Weber
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State continued its dominance of home tournaments, improving to 46-1 overall by beating Southern Illinois, 70-58, on Saturday night, day three of the World Vision Challenge.
The inside-outside combo of tournament MVP Kysean Reed, who roamed the paint for 21 points, and guard Preston Medlin, who made three 3-pointers and scored 16 points, were the difference for the Aggies (9-1).
"Medlin got loose on us a little bit, but we just couldn't stop them inside," said SIU head coach Barry Hinson, whose tallest starter stands 6-foot-5. "This is one game where no doubt in my mind, (lack of) size really hurt us."
The loss overshadowed a remarkable performance by Saluki junior guard Desmar Jackson, who scored a career-high 29 points and made 5-of-7 from 3-point range. He added six rebounds and three assists and was named to the All-Tournament team.
"The last two games are the Desmar Jackson we need to be competitive in the Valley," said Hinson, of his junior guard who scored 21 last night. "It's really simple, if he plays with energy and effort on the defensive end, it will correlate on the offensive end."
Not only did he score half of his team's points, but Jackson had four steals and numerous deflections.
"He really disrupts teams when he's active," Hinson said. "I think we have a diamond in the rough here."
The problem for the Salukis (7-4) was that they couldn't disrupt Utah State's inside game. Reed made 7-of-12 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line. As a team the Aggies shot 60 percent from the field, including 6-of-9 from 3-point. Southern never led in the game and was behind by double digits the final 14 minutes.
"We're just not very good defensively," Hinson observed. "A lot of that has to do with how teams are attacking us. We know teams are going to go at us inside. We're doubling and doing what we can on the big guys."
Sophomore forward Dantiel Daniels, who leads the Missouri Valley Conference in field goal percentage, was 3-of-7 on the night for six points.
"I don't think we're going to run into teams as big as Utah State (in the Valley)," Hinson said. "They did a good job of guarding Dantiel, but Dantiel got tired tonight and stopped working. I have to have somebody to come off the bench and help us. Davante (Drinkard) and Antonio (Bryer) are not giving us any quality minutes."
Starting point guard Kendal Brown-Surles, who had been among the league leaders in minutes played, was only on the floor for nine minutes. Hinson said that was no accident.
"I'm really upset with Kendal," Hinson said. "Right now, he doesn't give us anything. His stat line is awful, he doesn't guard. Until he can do something to help us, we're going to move in a different direction."
The Salukis have eight days off before beginning conference play at Missouri State next Sunday. SIU won only eight games last season, including a 5-13 mark in league play.
Hinson acknowledged that the team's schedule -- filled with weaker opponents and few home games -- has not benefitted his team.
"When you don't play at home and you're not consistently in front of your own fans -- we played the least amount of home games of any team in the Valley -- how hard is that on our guys?" he asked. "It's really unfair to our guys. It will never happen again. We'll play more home games and play a better schedule."
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