In his postgame show, SIU head coach Chris Lowery proclaimed that Floorburn U was back.
Senior forwards Randal Falker and Matt Shaw combined to score 31 points and grab 14 rebounds in the Salukis 71-60 victory against Bradley.
For the first part of the year, SIU had been playing as if the popular moniker had been missing, but a recent five-game winning streak has revived the Salukis NCAA tourney hopes.
The Dawgs have won either the MVC regular season or tournament championship, thus appearing in six consecutive NCAA tournaments. Its recent run has put SIU squarely on the bubble, and back in the national spotlight.
Player of the Game: Junior point guard Bryan Mullins was clutch in the Salukis’ victory. Mullins scored 10 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out six assists.
• Seniors stepping up. With Senior Day approaching (March 1), the SIU version of ‘The Big Three’ has been playing well. Seniors Matt Shaw, Randal Falker and Tyrone Green combined to score 35 points and grab 20 rebounds, in Tuesday night’s victory against Bradley.
• Field goal defense. When you talk about ‘Floorburn U,’ you talk about defense and rebounding. The Salukis limited the Braves to 60 points on 19-of-48 shooting from the field (39.6%), while outrebounding Bradley, 34-28.
• Backcourt offense. The SIU guards have played well in recent games, which makes it easier to play in the low post. Bryan Mullins, Tyrone Greene, Wesley Clemmons, and Joshua Bone combined to score 37 points on 12-of-24 shooting (50%).
• Dumb, bad fouls. Even though the stat sheet didn’t show it, undisciplined Salukis made dumb fouls. I’m basing this assertion on the fact SIU had fouled Bradley’s Theron Wilson 10 times—and there was still about 12 minutes remaining in the game.
• First-half shooting woes. I hate road games for the simple fact that SIU won’t win if it doesn’t get off to a good start, and I don’t consider shooting 35% from the field in the first half a good start.
• Daniel Ruffin. There was a time in which I felt bad for Ruffin, who missed several weeks with a sports hernia injury as Bradley slid down the MVC standings. However, Ruffin is facing recent battery charges, which have him suspended indefinitely. There’s no room in sports for that, end of story.
Stat of the Day: In the second half of SIU’s victory against Bradley, the Salukis shot 14-for-25 from the field (56%).
Quote of the Night: “With the way these guys are playing, ‘Floorburn U’ is back.” – Chris Lowery, SIU head coach after the 71-60 victory against Bradley.
SIU returns to the friendly confines of the SIU Arena for Senior Night. Saluki Nation will honor the careers of Randal Falker, Matt Shaw, Tyrone Green and Dion Coopwood.
Luis C. Medina Sports Reporter