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It looks like SIU is reverting to its old ways and that’s a good thing.
The Salukis beat the Evansville Purple Aces Tuesday night by a score of 59-39. Evansville made only 15 shots from the field, shooting a woeful 35.7%. This comes only days after the Salukis held the Creighton BlueJays, the MVC’s highest scoring team, to 44 points Saturday night.
The Salukis were paced by Matt Shaw’s double-double. Shaw scored 15 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in SIU’s victory and Randal Falker chipped in with a game-high 16 points.
• Randal Falker’s free-throw shooting. Falker has been much maligned—and deservedly so—for his poor free throw shooting. However, Falker went 8-for-10 from the charity stripe. Hitting free-throws in tight ballgames could be important to SIU’s second half run. Yes, I understand this was a blowout, but you’ve got to be encouraged any time Falker converts on the freebies.
• Matt Shaw’s rebounding. Shaw has collected 28 rebounds in his last three games (9.3 rebounds per game.) He’s also chipped in 16.3 points per game. Shaw is also stepping up on the court vocally, which has to be good for team morale.
• SIU’s defense turns back the clock. The Salukis allowed 44 points Saturday and 39 points Tuesday night. SIU’s calling card this decade has been its stifling man-to-man defense. If SIU can keep up the pace and continue to play like Saluki Nation has come accustomed to seeing, the Dawgs may be back at the top of the MVC before you know it.
• Three point shooting. The Salukis were only 3-for-15 (20%) from beyond the arc. The great thing about college basketball is that the three-point line is the great equalizer. The Salukis will need to shoot higher than 20% from three-point range if they want to get back in the race for the MVC crown.
• Joshua Bone’s 0 assists and 3 turnovers. When Bryan Mullins is out, Bone shifts to the point and SIU’s offense suffers. One of SIU’s glaring weaknesses is that its bench is without a true back-up point guard. Someone needs to step up, Mullins can’t play 40 minutes at such a high level every night.
• Bench production. I might be too harsh on our bench, but I think I may have a case here. I understand the bench’s job isn’t necessarily to score points. And I realize that SIU’s bench outscored Evansville’s bench. But the trio of Tyrone Green, Tony Boyle and Carlton Fay has to do better than 7 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
· As of this posting, the victory gives SIU (11-10 overall, 6-4 in conference play) sole possession of third place in the MVC.
· SIU held an opponent below 40 points for the first 2006. (Def. Louisiana Tech 50-36 on Nov. 29, 2006.)
· 8 of SIU’s 11 wins have been by double digits.
The Salukis will be in action Saturday night in Cedar Falls, Iowa to take on the University Northern Iowa Panthers.