St. Louis, Mo – The Southern Illinois Salukis tried to make a statement early during their Thursday night MVC Tournament play-in game against the Sycamores of Indiana State, but they failed to follow through on their game plan. Instead, it was the Terra Haute boys who harassed the Carbondale kids all night long winning the match-up 66-51.
“They put a lot of pressure on you and growing up that’s what one of the coaches always told me; if they’re going to come out and guard you half-court just go right around them,” said Sycamore leader Jake Odum.
“We had a lot of good screens that created space and allowed us to get in the paint,” continued Odum, who scored a team high 17 points tonight.
Odum was a darling of the Missouri Valley Tournament last year as he left team after team with broken ankles and a look of awe upon their face. All eyes were on him tonight and those 17 points came primarily in the paint off of those screens.
“We had a lot off of penetration tonight. The way they were guarding the ball screen Jake (Odum) had his feet in there a lot and so did the other guys. (SIU) is such a good help team, they come flying to the ball and then you get dump offs and get easier buckets,” said an excited Sycamores head coach Greg Lansing after his team’s Thursday evening win at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Despite various comeback attempts by the Chris Lowery’s Dawg squad, the boys from Southern Illinois simply could not adapt defensively, allowing the Trees to shoot 42.9% from beyond the arc and 50% overall with 40 points in the paint and 17 points off turnovers.
After the game, Chris Lowery had a visually upset Justin Bocot to his right and a teary eyed Mamadou Seck to his left. He refused to comment on the status of his future with the Salukis. Instead, Lowery simply stated that he’s had a lot of success at SIU and expects to be leading the Dawgs to victory for next year. He did, however, acknowledge the rumors.
“There’s been nothing. There’s been us trying to keep the focus on our team,” said Lowery. “Speculation leads to anxiety with the players… Their parents were calling me and it was more so calming them down than anything and that’s what my job is.”
Bocot was able to add 10 points to the Salukis point total while Seck joined in with a team-high 14 of his own. The young Dantiel Daniels was second on the team with 12 points including making 2 of the just 3 shots made from beyond the arc for the Salukis.
“It’s been four amazing years, I mean, I’ve been to China,” said a reflective Bocot. “No regrets.” Besides not getting the ball into the paint more, that is.
The Indiana State Sycamores advance to 19-13 on the season and take on the Shockers of Wichita tomorrow night. The Salukis fall to 8-24 on the season.