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Matt Shaw was almost perfect against Northern Iowa.
The senior forward from Centralia hit 8-of-9 shots from the field, scoring 23 points in the Salukis’ 67-47 victory over the Panthers.
While Shaw was almost perfect, the victory kept SIU (15-12, 10-6) perfect at home, while improving its record to 61-1 at home against Missouri Conference Valley foes in the last seven years.
Player of the game: It’s a no brainer: Matt Shaw 23 points 9 rebounds 8-9 FGs 4-4 3-PT
• Matt Shaw steps up. No. 32 deserves a bulk of the praise tonight. The much-maligned senior put together a complete game, leading the Salukis in every offensive category except offensive rebounds and assists. In a post-game radio interview, Shaw said SIU is playing its best ball of the year, and he’s right. It’s a shame SIU couldn’t play like this all year.
• Bryan Mullins’ ball distribution. It looks like the “Curse of Tom Weber’s Blog” is over, and all is right in Bryan Mullins’ world. The junior point guard dished out seven assists, while only turning the ball over twice. Mullins also chipped in with 13 points. Despite Shaw’s stellar play tonight, Mullins is proving with every game that he is the Salukis go-to guy.
• Dialing long distance. SIU entered the game hitting 33% of its three-point field goals, but tonight the Salukis hit 12-of-20 three-pointers. The Salukis were so hot from three-point range Tyrone Green hit one himself. Green only averages a shade over 5 points per game.
• O’Rear def. Fay. UNI forward Lucas O’Rear bested SIU forward Carlton Fay in round two of a match up that has future Valley classic written all over it. O’Rear shot 4-of-5 from the field, scoring 8 points off the bench for the Panthers. On the other hand, Fay was only 2-of-6 from the field, scoring only 5 points. SIU recruited the high school rivals, but the Salukis passed on O’Rear’s, reportedly being disappointed in his work ethic.
• Falker a no-show on offense. It’s hard to pin the blame on Randal because he is the primary guy the opposition tries to stop. Falker posted only six points and six rebounds, but his work on the defensive end limiting Eric Coleman to only two points in 20 minutes.
• SIU played well enough to where I don’t have to post a third “down”. If you’re a Saluki fan, you have to be pleased with the team’s all around performance. The Dawgs are playing like a team that knows that its postseason livelihood likely depends on them winning out.
• Props to the youngster who won the Giant City Lodge “Let’s Make A Deal” contest. The kid, who isn’t old enough to know the “Let’s Make A Deal” reference, hit a lay-up, free-throw and 3-pointer to net $100 straight cash. Afterward, the Dawg Pound chanted “Sign him up! Sign him up!” which was immediately followed by a phone call by current Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson.
• SIU stays a game behind second-place Illinois State, who pulled out a victory against lowly Evansville. The battle for the No. 2 seed in the MVC tourney could come down to the March 1 match-up at the SIU Arena on Senior Night.
• The Salukis return to action Saturday afternoon as they host the Nevada Wolfpack in a BracketBuster showdown.