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SIU is now playing like it realizes that a seventh straight NCAA appearance isn’t guaranteed to anyone.
The Salukis victory over the Shockers of Wichita State University put the Dawgs at .500 overall (9-9) and moved them to 4-3 in Missouri Valley Conference play.
SIU was led by senior forward Randal Falker, who scored 13 of his game-high 15 points in the first half. And even though he only scored two points in the second half, Falker impacted the game by getting two of WSU’s big men to foul out, shortening the Shockers bench.
• Falker’s play. Falker did the things that senior leaders are supposed to do. He led the Salukis with 15 points, got the Shockers in foul trouble and got his teammates involved by passing out of low-post double teams.
• The SIU Bench. Tyrone Green, Tony Boyle and Carlton Fay played effectively as a unit, and that is going to be a key for the Salukis down the stretch. They combined to outscore the Shockers bench 18-14.
• Joshua Bone. Bone went 4-for-6 from the field and 3-for-4 from the three-point line. His outside shooting ability is one of those things that can carry SIU when he’s on.
• Matt Shaw’s 0-fer beyond the arc. SIU head coach Chris Lowery mentioned in the post game show that Shaw has recently struggled behind the arc, but still wants him to shoot because he’s “earned” it. That irked me a bit, seeing that Dusty Baker used to say that his vets “earned” starting spots despite struggling and being on the downside of their careers. But Shaw isn’t a Baker guy, he’s a SIU guy…and if it’s one thing I know about Matt Shaw is that he WILL break out of his slump and contribute to SIU’s success.
• Chris Lowery’s Technical Foul. Not that it was a bad thing, but if C-Lo would have burst out later and got a second ‘T’ he would have been gone. I’m not sure how the Salukis would manage without their head coach.
• Whoever fouled PJ Couisnard in the closing seconds. Fouling a three-point shooter is a bad idea, no matter where it happens in the game. It’s unacceptable…unless you’re fouling Shaq or Ben Wallace, of course.
• Bryan Mullins is becoming the undisputed leader of this team. Mullins posted 11 points, five assists, and two steals. He’s also becoming Mr. Last Second Shot for SIU. That doesn’t surprise me…knowing that Mullins has beaten a few teams with last second shots…including my personal favorite against Creighton, in Omaha, Neb.
• SIU is giving up 62.1 points per game in Valley games, a far cry from what they did last year. SIU is going to need to step up its ‘D’ down the stretch.
• With their 63 point effort this afternoon, the Salukis moved to 9-0 in games in which they score 63 or more points. Again, it looks like 63 is SIU’s magic number.
The Salukis are in action again on Wednesday when they travel to Springfield, Mo. to face the Missouri State Bears in the last game the Dawgs will play in the Hammond Center. Thank God!!!!