#13 Men's Basketball achieves highest ranking in school history

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    Feb. 19, 2007

    Southern Illinois climbed three spots in the Associated Press men's basketball poll this week to a school-record #13 ranking. They also moved up one slot in the ESPN/USAToday Coaches poll to #14.

    "We can't allow that to go to our heads," Saluki head coach Chris Lowery said Monday afternoon. "We need to really just relax and just enjoy it. We've got so much work to do and so many games left to play, we think that you just have to reflect on it at the end of the season."

    The Salukis (23-5, 13-3) will play at Indiana State on Wednesday and host Evansville on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the regular-season finale. With a Saluki win or Creighton loss in either of the last two games, SIU clinches the regular-season title and top seed in the MVC Tournament.

    "It's been a very exciting time for us and our fans," Lowery said. "It's just special. This just doesn't happen to everybody. I think that these kids are playing on a high level now. (The media) have to be really considering this a high-major program."

    Tickets are still available for the Evansville game and can be purchased from the Saluki ticket office during normal business hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a special Senior Day presentation before the game. You can also purchase your tickets any time on-line at www.SIUSalukis.com or by calling Ticketmaster Charge-by-Phone at (866) 646-8849.

    On top of the good news concerning the national ranking, senior guard Jamaal Tatum was named the Missouri Valley Conference "Player of the Week."

    Tatum averaged 18.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in Saluki road wins at Missouri State and at #12 Butler. In both games, Tatum made key shots at the end to secure the victories. Against the Bears, he scored seven of the team's final nine points, including a 3-pointer with 1:12 remaining that gave SIU a two-point lead. Against the Bulldogs, Tatum scored 12 of his game-high 20 points in the final five minutes of the contest. For the week, he shot 40 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line.

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