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    Feb. 10, 2012

    By Tyler Wooten
    SIUSalukis.com

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois (8-17, 5-9) practiced at Davies Gym today as it prepares to face Indiana State (14-11, 5-9) in a men's basketball matchup on Saturday. The game will be televised on WSIU at noon CT.

    Head coach Chris Lowery met with the media prior to practice.

    Q: "This is a matchup between two teams with the same thing at stake..."

    "Yeah, same records, same everything, coming off tough losses. They're at home, that's the only advantage they have, but we just have to go in there and play hard like we've been playing the last couple games and we have to take advantages and really focus on the little things, because the little things cost us against Missouri State."

    Q: "Given that you have head-to-head matchups against the teams in front of you, you really control your own destiny..."

    "Right, and they know it, too. We've really addressed where we are, who's ahead of us, and we play three of those teams right here, with the exception of Creighton. It's definitely control your own destiny. Definitely the ability to be able to do that is better off than not being able to and not knowing what your fate is. They understand what's ahead of them, and we put the pressure on them to understand that. Anything can happen, so they'll be ready to play."

    Q: "Is that the goal now, to be able to stay out of the play-in round?"

    "We don't even talk about it because we have so many guys who don't even know what Thursday is, because we've never told them, so that's not even something we've talked about."

    Q: "How big is it that your guards rebound tomorrow?"

    "It's going to be important because obviously the last game we got dominated from the guard spot. A big part of that is Jeff Early has to keep his composure and be in the game."

    Q: "Can you talk about Early more? It seems he's found his role on the team these last few weeks."

     

     

    "Yeah, he's playing hard. He's always played hard. Learning offensively what we need him to do has been his biggest issue, and sometimes with a JUCO player you kinda play with a little loose spirit, and on this level, possessions mean everything, and I think he's learned how to play."

    Q: "Next to Jake Odum, who do you feel is most capable of hurting you?"

    "(Dwayne) Lathan is obviously having a big-time year. In the conference I think he's averaging 16.5 in league play, so he's the athlete since he's been there that we've really struggled to guard, so hopefully we can guard him again like we did here and really keep Odum out of the paint."

    Q: "What makes Odum such a good rebounder?"

    "Well, he's 6-3, 6-4, he hangs around the rim. He's very good at getting 50-50 balls, that's what he really does best. To our advantage, if he's going to the boards, that means nobody is back. Our thing is if we can beat them on the boards, especially rebounding at the guard position, we can get out in transition on them."

    Q: "Your last five opponents you've held to 60 points or less -- what's been the biggest factor in the defensive turnaround?"

    "I think it's them learning more. We've been able to practice a little more with them, but now we have to get our offense going. I think a lot of it had to do with T.J. (Lindsay) struggling. When he shoots the three well, it makes us a different team. And Kendal (Brown-Surles) obviously needs to get going offensively, too -- we need him to make some shots for us. T.J. is kind of the factor. If we can get T.J. and Jeff going at the same time, that usually means Dantiel (Daniels) and Mamadou (Seck) are going, too. We have to get our starters going, and I think that will help us more than anything."

    Q: "You hit seven threes against them the first time -- do you feel like you can get some good looks?"

    "Yeah, I think we can get them good looks. If you look at their defensive three-point percentage is in the 40s, so we're going to have opportunities, we just have to make them."

    Q: "Will transition defense be important for you as well?"

    "I think so. Especially against Lathan because he's such an athletic person, if you let him get going like he got going against Evansville in transition, his first baskets were all at the rim, so you can't allow him to get his head up with transition dunks and layups."

    Q: "What does (Kourtney) Goff do well for you defensively?"

    "Kourtney just does a good job of talking and really setting the tone. Our thing is that we can't allow people to get straight-line drives to the rim, and we were doing that before we inserted him into the lineup, and now it's been limited. Now that's a big part of what we're doing, keeping people out of the lane a little bit more, and that's allowed Dantiel to be a shot blocker from the weak side, as opposed to people just driving straight at him and having a chance to get an assist or make a layup."

    Q: "Are you surprised at how much Indiana State has struggled this conference season even though they have four starters back from last season?"

    "When you lose a person, it changes your makeup. They lost a gutty, tough guy at guard (Aaron Carter), and now everybody else moves up in the rotation, and he was their best defender. Now he's gone, so now people have to do different things. They were plugging right along in non-conference and then the league hit and they struggled a little bit, but they're still a good team and they're capable of beating anybody."

    Q: "Do you ever talk to Marcus (Belcher)?"

    "Yeah, of course. Marcus is still family. Obviously it's different now. You can't talk to him anything basketball, but he's one of ours still."

    Q: "What do you have to do to get your offense going again?"

    "We just have to make some shots, and we've had our share of opportunities. I think we have to shoot the ball with no fear again. From T.J. to Kendal -- those two guys are really the ones that have struggled the most and have hurt us the most. Everyone else is pretty much plugging along like we need them to. But if those two wake up, with ourconcertedeffort to get Dantiel and Mamadou the ball more, it'll make us better."

    Q: "Are you going to go with the same lineup from Wednesday?"

    "Yeah."

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