Floorburn U made a guest appearance in the Salukis 48-44 over the Creighton Blue Jays.
This year’s version of SIU played like the teams that helped build the program to what it is today. The Salukis played like the team that ESPN thought they would see when they chose SIU to host College GameDay.
In front of a packed SIU Arena, junior guard Bryan Mullins that starred for the Salukis. As former backcourt mates Jamaal Tatum and Tony Young watched from the crowd, Mullins willed the Salukis to victory.
· Mullins strong play. If everyone on the Salukis played like Mullins, SIU wouldn’t be 10-10 and 5-4 in conference play. Mullins scored 13 points to go along with 4 assists, but that was just the beginning. Mullins is the Salukis go-to-guy and there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. He makes clutch baskets, he makes smart decisions with the basketball, and he is SIU’s most fundamentally sound player.
· Matt Shaw shows up. Shaw came to play in his last home game against the Blue Jays, leading the all scorers with 16 points. Shaw’s lack of consistency has drawn plenty of criticism from Saluki Nation, and it has been well deserved. Shaw’s back-to-back threes brought the Salukis within two points and revived a quieting SIU Arena. The way Shaw played last night is the way everyone thought he’d play all year.
· SIU fans rock The Arena. Saluki Nation was in full force last night, decked out in maroon. They were loud and proud and very much into the game. The Dawg Pound was pretty good, however some members (more to come in ‘Three Down’).
· Guards not named “Bryan Mullins”. Saluki guards not named Bryan Mullins struggled against the Jays. The combination of Joshua Bone, Wesley Clemmons and Tyrone Green combined to score 6 points on 3-for-13 shooting (23%).
· Officiating. It seems as if officiating complaints come after SIU games but the refs were bad at this game. I know that MVC refs have better things to do on a Saturday night, but there is no reason not to have the best refs for this game. Poor officiating left ESPN analysts Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps shaking their heads after several blown calls.
· Certain Dawg Pound members. To quote fellow sports reporter Matt Hartwig, “What is this, amateur night?” The one problem I have with these nationally televised games is that it brings out the fair-weather…dare I say…dumb Saluki fans. Dumb freshman that want to storm the court and throw things at security guards among other things. Rushing the court is reserved for unranked teams beating ranked opponents, not for teams that were ranked No. 11 as recently as last year. We’re been to the mountaintop, let’s act like it.
· SIU held Creighton to 44 points in the entire game. Kansas scored 44 points in the first half of its victory over Nebraska. The Salukis only scored 48, but 48 was good enough to win the ballgame.
· That brings me to my next stat. SIU (finally) picked up its first win when not scoring 63 points. Prior to Saturday’s game, SIU was 0-10 in games when they scored less than 63 points. The magic number stat is no more.
· Kaleb Korver, younger brother of NBA three-point specialist and Saluki killer Kyle Korver, was held scoreless in his first game against the Salukis. Korver didn’t do much in his 5 minutes of playing time, and I hope that trend continues for the next four years!
SIU’s win over Creighton put the Salukis in a three-way tie for third place. The Salukis will be in action again Tuesday night when they host the Evansville Purple Aces.